Is Binocular really one to focus on?

The vibes emanating from the Nicky Henderson camp regarding the chances of their Binocular in next month’s Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham aren’t particularly encouraging at the moment, writes Elliot Slater.

Weather permitting Binocular – currently 8/1 fourth favourite in the Champion Hurdle Betting is set to run at Sandown on Saturday in a listed hurdle, a race where he is unlikely to face too many other genuine Champion Hurdle contenders.

Twice a beaten favourite behind leading Irish candidate Go Native this season, Binocular has failed to show any great spark and in a recent television interview, Henderson said: “I have to admit this season has not got off to the start I wanted for him… He’s a big, strong horse and maybe he’s lost a bit of speed, although he shouldn’t as he’s maturing.”

Taking the bare form as it stands so far this term there is no logical reason why Binocular should overturn previous running with Go Native, but there seems little doubt that Cheltenham does bring out the best in the French bred six-year-old as he proved last year when running a very close third in the championship race behind stable companion Punjabi.

In 2008 he also ran a cracker in finishing second at the Cheltenham Festival behind Captain Cee Bee in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, so Binocular’s supporters will doubtless be counting on a return to Prestbury Park as their trump card in the equation.

Soon Henderson will know exactly how his Champion Hurdle trio stand Zaynar and defending champion Punjabi are also set for their final outings before the big event itself.

Zaynar is currently favourite in the Champion Hurdle betting odds so all eyes will be on him when he runs at Kelso.
At present, of the Henderson trio, it is arguable that Binocular looks the least likely to bring the Champion Hurdle trophy back to Seven Barrows.

At present, of the Henderson trio, it is arguable that Binocular looks the least likely to bring the Champion Hurdle trophy back to Seven Barrows.

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