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McCoy in raptures as Binocular bounces back to magnificent best

Rarely, in fact never, have we seen such emotion from the best jump jockey that has ever been, as we did when the great Tony McCoy returned on Binocular after his emphatic triumph in the Champion Hurdle.

A 999/1 chance on Betfair at one stage in the run up to the Cheltenham Festival when he was all but ruled out by trainer Nicky Henderson, Binocular repaid the faith that McCoy had so often reported of him and gave the jockey his third win in the race.

The £1m dream for Go Native's connections was never to be as Noel Meade's favourite just couldn't go with the leaders at a crucial stage and later he revealed that a mistake at the second flight of hurdles all but put an end to the dream.

Ruby Walsh didn't hang around on Celestial Halo but it was Binocular who gave owner JP McManus his fourth win in the race emulating Istabraq, who gave McCoy one of his most rewarding in the saddle.

"I am so happy for the horse because every time that I have ridden him, I have thought the world of him and I can't believe that he didn't win this race last year," said McCoy afterwards.

"You get a bit despondent and you feel for the horse a bit because lots of other people are knocking him and you know that there is something that is stopping the real Binocular being as good as he can be.

"I was just hoping he would come right. I am so happy for JP and Norah, this was a better feeling than I have ever had on a horse."

The horse had a run of disappointing efforts ever since he was narrowly beaten by stable-mate Punjabi in last year's renewal and Henderson had all but ruled him out of a tilt this year when the poor form appeared unexplainable.


"It hasn't been an easy passage this year," admitted the trainer. "We ironed a few things out and we have a lot of people to thank on both sides of the Irish Sea for getting him here."

McCoy added: "I couldn't believe he got beat in this race last year and today is the first time I felt I was riding the horse I rode at Ascot last season. JP and Nicky said to leave it up to me but they needed to know and I rode him last week and went as fast as I could go and I knew then what I was riding in the Champion Hurdle."

The biggest cheer of the day came after the finale as the crowd tossed papers to the heavens and roared home the sensational training performance of Willie Mullins who managed to get Quevega to land the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle for a second year running.

Off since last May, Quevega was nursed back to the scene of her finest hour 12 months ago after a hind leg suspensory injury and despite false reports of her well-being last week, Quevega sent the bulk of punters home happy.

Ruby's first winner of the week was his 25th at the festival, as he equalled the record of Pat Taaffe of Cheltenham Festival winners.

"She suffered the injury in Auteuil and the synopsis looked very bad and we debated whether to put her in foal, but it was too late to do that so we banked everything on getting her back here," said Mullins.

"We couldn't school her much because the vet said it could aggravate the injury, but Ruby rang me up last week to make sure she still had four legs because of the reports about her from England. God knows where the rumours came from."

The third Irish winner on day one came in the Cross Country Chase over the banks course, which was little surprise, although it was a slight shock it came courtesy of A New Story for Michael Hourigan and his 17-year-old conditional jockey Adrian Heskin.