Binocular sees 'em off
Daily Mirror - 2010-03-17
Binocular, the horse dramatically ruled out of Cheltenham by trainer Nicky Henderson, bounced from his sickbed to blitz his opponents in the Champion Hurdle, writes Dave Yates.
The 9-1 shot's victory, by a dashing three and a half lengths from Khyber Kim, made up for disappointment a year ago when Binocular was sent off the 6-4 favourite for the feature, but could manage just third place.
This winter saw a slump in Binocular's form - Tony McCoy's mount suffered unexpected reverses in Newcastle's Fighting Fifth and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
And although the six-yearold managed to land odds of 1-7 at Sandown last month, 10 days later Henderson drew stumps on Binocular's 2010 Champion challenge.
"A lot of people would have expected us to come in at Sandown with big, smiley faces," said the Seven Barrows trainer, gaining back-to-back successes after Punjabi's win 12 months ago.
"But I knew straight away that 'AP' [McCoy] was a very unhappy bunny. His face said it all and we weren't going to fool anybody by pretending we were happy." But, with bone scans at owner J P McManus' Martinstown Stud in Co Limerick showing no damage, connections brought Binocular back to Henderson's Lambourn base for a workout last Wednesday.
Two days later after watching Binocular's lightning workout under Mc-Coy, Henderson gave the horse his blessing to take part.
"I went as fast as I've ever gone schooling on a horse - I actually frightened myself - and for some reason he jumped like a proper Champion Hurdler should," said the 14-time champion jockey.
"All year I just had no feel whatsoever from Binocular, but when I got off him on Wednesday, I thought, 'That's good enough for me.'" McManus, who retains McCoy on a £1million-a-year contract, confessed: "I had a few pounds on him prior to Sandown and to be honest I could have torn up my ticket. Luckily, I didn't!"
Last July, Henderson was banned for running horses for three months by the BHA after being found guilty of doping The Queen's Moonlit Path at Huntingdon in February 2009.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of five years ban. "It was a horrible experience," he recalled. "I was being found guilty and we didn't believe we were guilty. It wasn't a criminal offence - we were trying to look after a horse."
Noel Meade was keen to look to the future after Go Native failed in his quest to land his connections a £1million payout with a victory in the Champion. Betting exchange WBX.COM put up the sevenfigure pot for any horse successful in the Tuesday feature in addition to the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Kempton's Christmas Hurdle which Go Native had done.
But Paul Carberry's mount, held up at the back of the field during the early stages, could manage no better than 10th. "I wouldn't rule him out of going to Punchestown. I would hope we will come back here again," said Meade.
To link to this article please use the following: