McCoy’s Kempton focus on Binocular
Champion jockey Tony McCoy doesn’t have a ride in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day but the Ulsterman has a very nice consolation prize in the shape of Nicky Henderson’s Binocular in the Christmas Hurdle.
Henderson believes he has Binocular in the best possible shape to retain his Christmas Hurdle title.
Just five will go to post for the Kempton Grade One with the seven-year-old again arriving with a point to prove.
The 2010 Champion Hurdle winner, who missed Cheltenham back in March, defeated Overturn by nearly four lengths in the rearranged event last January, but Donald McCain's admirable performer turned those tables in no uncertain terms in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.
Just like stable star Long Run, who met with defeat on his seasonal reappearance, Henderson expects Binocular to strip much fitter with Newcastle under his belt and confidence was boosted after a schooling session under 16-times champion McCoy.
“AP schooled him this morning and jumped four hurdles. I'm very, very pleased with him,” said Henderson yesterday.
“You might find with him that when he ran at Newcastle, it was the same situation as when Long Run ran at Haydock.
“He came on tons for his run in the Fighting Fifth last year and he's in great shape.
“The track suits him and he won this race last year.
“Overturn is bound to go a good gallop, so there'll be no lack of pace on.”
Overturn has been riding the crest of a wave since the corresponding race last season, winning the Chester Cup on the level, the Scottish Summer Champion Hurdle at Perth, the Ascot Hurdle and the Fighting Fifth.
His latest start saw him attempt to give Binocular's progressive stablemate Grandouet 4lb when second in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham.
McCain feels the ground is crucial for Overturn to be seen at his best, but he is happy with current conditions at Kempton.
“He seems grand. He's bounced out of Cheltenham and the ground has come in his favour so we'll give it a go,” said McCain.
“You never know how they have recovered from races until you run them and I suppose we'll find out if it's one race too many further down the line.
“But at this time of year the weather could change in a couple of days and that might be him for two months, so we'll take our chance while we can.
“He ran well in the race last season and he's been better this time around so fingers crossed.”
McCain's stable jockey Jason Maguire is eagerly anticipating another bold show.
“I can't wait for it. The ground is good to soft there and that should be fine,” he said.
“He ran another cracker at Cheltenham and we're hoping for a big run again.”
Meanwhile, McCoy rides Teaforthree for Rebecca Curtis in the Feltham Novices' Chase.