Binocular made to work hard for narrow success in Adonis
First published on Sunday, February 24, 2008
Binocular was here to justify second favouritism for the Triumph Hurdle after an impressive debut at Ascot but, after a “workmanlike” performance in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle, the winner’s connections appeared a little dejected.
There were plenty of mixed emotions in the winner’s enclosure because the runner-up, Pierrot Lunaire, proved himself “too good” for his prospective festival engagements.
Nine of the 11 runners in yesterday’s Racing Post-sponsored contest hold Cheltenham entries, but this was all about Binocular and whether he was worthy of comparison with owner JP McManus’s preferred Triumph prospect Franchoek.
However, the bookmakers were unmoved and Binocular remained unchanged at 7-1 with William Hill and Paddy Power, and 8-1 with Ladbrokes, for the Triumph.
Mick Fitzgerald’s mount and the second pulled away from the rest of the field, Binocular beating Pierrot Lunaire by a length and a quarter, with another 11 lengths back to third-placed Zanir, but it was his jumping that raised questions.
“Mick said he didn’t jump as well as he ought to,” said winning trainer Nicky Henderson. “He schooled well at home and was brilliant at Ascot, so there was no reason for it.”
Henderson, rushing back from the start where he had been seeing to his other runner, fourth-placed Doubly Guest, reported that Cheltenham plans remain very much undecided.
“He takes a lot of getting right at home and, with only two and a half weeks until Cheltenham, nobody wants them 100 per cent today,” he added. “He’s done what he had to and won.”
For McManus it was clear that Binocular had not made an impression on market leader Franchoek, and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle remains an option for yesterday’s winner.
“Perhaps he would prefer softer ground,” he said. “I’d like time to reflect on the race and see what he’s done before we decide which race to go for, but you’d have to say that Franchoek is the one they have to beat. He’s the form horse.
“This was a workmanlike performance rather than a spectacular one. Mick’s not been carried away with it today, but at the end of the day, you can’t ask for anything more. It’s winning form.”
However, the vibe emanating from the runner-up’s camp was more upbeat. “Don’t be too disappointed – the second horse is very good,” Nicholls told Henderson.
“I think I’ve run him back too quick after Taunton. I thought he looked light in the paddock and I can get him better than that. I thought I had to run him here to get him into the Fred Winter, but after that run, he’s too good for that race, so we’ll wait for Aintree with him.”
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