Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Binocular awaiting Festival fun

There is some significant Cheltenham i-dotting and t-crossing due to be carried out later this week but a certain amount of punctuation was put in place yesterday ahead of the four-day, £3.3m Festival that starts four weeks today.

Binocular, for instance, one of Nicky Henderson's Champion Hurdle candidates, will miss tomorrow's Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso and tackle the title he won two years ago without further conditioning in public.

And Irish mare Voler La Vedette, trained by Colm Murphy, is to take on the rock of Big Buck's in the World Hurdle rather than the hard place of Quevega in the David Nicholson Hurdle.

Likewise, she will head straight for the Festival, skipping her proposed warm-up at Navan on Saturday. The expansion of programme at the Festival can make life difficult for ante-post punters with an increasing number of options for competitors, particularly in the novice hurdle divisions.

But unbeaten Fingal Bay, at the head of the betting for both the two-mile five furlong Grade 1 contest and its three-mile equivalent, is now confirmed for the shorter race, the Neptune Investment Management Hurdle.

“I'm sure he would go three miles,” said Somerset trainer Philip Hobbs.

“But we don't know that for certain.”

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