BINOCULAR is giving Nicky Henderson the right signals as the master of Seven Barrows bids to get his star hurdler back on the winning track at Newcastle on Saturday.
The seven-year-old has been beaten at odds-on in the last two renewals of the Stanjames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle, although he was far from disgraced when third behind Peddlers Cross when the race was rerouted to Newbury 12 months ago.
He followed that up with a brilliant display in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and a routine win at Sandown, but had to miss the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and failed to sparkle at Aintree and Punchestown subsequently.
"He ran a very good race in what was the Fighting Fifth run at Newbury last year, then he won the Christmas Hurdle and he was impressive, then he won at Sandown and was unimpressive," Henderson said. "Then he finished on an upside down note altogether.
"I just get the feeling he's leaner and meaner.
"He's probably no lighter but he's always looked that way since he came in.
"We were genuinely delighted with him on the day in the Fighting Fifth last year, even though he was beaten.
"This isn't the Champion Hurdle on Saturday, but it's a very important day from my point of view and Binocular's."