McCoy only has eyes for Binocular
Tony McCoy feels Saturday's totesport 0800 221 221 Contenders Hurdle at Sandown will set Binocular up perfectly to defend his Champion Hurdle crown in March.
The seven-year-old's form was indifferent for much of last season but he sparkled when it mattered most, turning in a scintillating display at Cheltenham.
Although beaten by Peddlers Cross on his first start of the current campaign in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, he regained the winning thread in the rearranged Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
"Luckily his form has been better this time around than last season," said McCoy.
"The races are a little closer together than last year but it still gives him good time to get ready for the Champion Hurdle.
"On form he's not improved - his Champion Hurdle win at Cheltenham was as good as he's produced in his career - but his form from Newbury to Kempton was definitely an improvement, and hopefully he'll keep improving. If he achieves the same sort of thing at Cheltenham in March he'll be very hard to beat."
Binocular's trainer Nicky Henderson will also saddle mare Ruthenoise. Although not up to the same level of her stable companion, her trainer is keen to let her line up to try and increase her paddock value.
"She's rated 116 and she'll be going to stud, so I'd be thrilled if she can get black type as for a filly like her that would be a major feat," said Henderson.
"I don't want Binocular to have a hard race and our theory on giving him another run is really just to save him doing a lot of work at home. He's a really bullish horse again and a racecourse spin does him good. He's fit and well but I don't want a seriously tough race."
Just four runners have been declared with Evan Williams saddling Siberian Tiger and Donald McCain, who had been considering running Peddlers Cross before he coughed earlier this week, runs Dorabelle.