Binocular set to return in Leopardstown’s BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1)
The 2010 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle hero, Binocular, is likely to make his return to the ring at the end of this month, as he enters the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The Nicky Henderson-trained holds the entry for Cheltenham’s Grade 1 Stan James Champion Hurdle (Challenge Trophy) in March. But ahead of that battle, he is ready for a big appearance at the highest level of the sport.
The 9-year-old was last seen in last March 2012, when finishing fourth behind Rock On Ruby at Cheltenham. In the Grade 1 Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy, he lost a close battle, missing the podium only by a length’s distance.
That was an unlucky loss for Henderson’s trainee. The 4-1 chance, in the hands of A. P. McCoy, held up in the rear, but made good progress afterwards. Staying on one pace in the middle stages hurt his cause badly though, as he completely failed to make an
impression on the leading trio.
The defeat came after a couple of fascinating triumphs. After taking the honours in Kempton’s Grade 1 Williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle on the 2011 Boxing Day, he perpetuated his majestic work, and won the Grade 2 Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.
Having enjoyed long vacations, the John P. McManus-owned is all set to return to action. McCoy, writing in his column for the Telegraph, stated:
"It appears that Binocular, a horse for whom I have a huge soft spot having won the 2010 Champion Hurdle on him, now looks likely to make his reappearance in the Irish Champion Hurdle.”
"I am really looking forward to riding him again. He has not run since last year's Champion Hurdle, when we finished fourth, but he is ready to go."
The rider could face a tough decision in March, as a couple Henderson-trained horses, Darlan and Binocular, would be at Cheltenham to fancy their chances. The former of the duo is likely to make his next start at Sandown the weekend after.
The jockey added: "No matter how they run, I expect it will come down to the usual dilemma of choosing between being loyal to an old favourite or siding with a young improver."