What to make of Binocular? So impressive in winning the Champion Hurdle, JP McManus' gifted seven-year-old loomed up on his comeback run at Newbury, only to weaken quickly into third place. He may have needed the run, but his effort was worryingly redolent of his lacklustre build-up to Cheltenham last season.
Although Binocular's connections were satisfied, an interesting facet of that Newbury run concerns Starluck, which finished six lengths ahead of him. That same horse finished just over one length ahead of Binocular in last season's Christmas Hurdle, when connections were most definitely not satisfied with the champion-to-be.
While Starluck has prospects of again accounting for Binocular, it's hard to see him containing Khyber Kim around this speed-favouring track. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, Khyber Kim is a standing dish fresh -- and he should certainly be that after a racecourse absence of nine months. The selection beat all bar Binocular at Cheltenham and can go one better here.