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Binocular (Tony McCoy) jumps the final flight and wins the Christmas Hurdle Kempton 15.01.2011

Binocular (centre): expected to improve a lot for the run on Sunday

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Binocular out to claim Irish Champion Hurdle

BINOCULAR returns to the track for the first time since the spring when he lines up in the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle and attempts to give Britain a first success in the race for nearly 20 years.

Trained by Nicky Henderson, who enjoyed another super Saturday in Britain thanks to Sprinter Sacre and Rolling Star and Cheltenham, Binocular was last seen finishing fourth in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The weather has thwarted Henderson's attempts to get Binocular back on the course but he is pleased with the condition of his 2010 Champion Hurdle winner as he prepares to line up at Leopardstown.

He said on Saturday: "Binocular travelled over last night and arrived safely this morning. He's in good form, but he's coming back from a long break and the last week hasn't been helpful.

"We wanted to go to Kempton with him, but we couldn't go there, and we know he doesn't like Sandown, so that was out too. We've got to start somewhere, but there'll be huge improvement. Weight-wise, he's about the same as he was in the Champion Hurdle, but to look at him you wouldn't think so."

Collier Bay was the last British-trained winner of the Irish Champion Hurdle in 1996 and Hurricane Fly, winner of the race for the past two years, heads the four runners in opposition to Binocular.

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