Tony McCoy effectively stated after Binocular won the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day that the horse did not give him the same feel as days gone by and it will now be hoped that a breathing operation will remedy any problems.
Binocular has always been difficult to train and hard to get right to peak for a particular race, but when at his best he is supremely high class, like when landing the Champion Hurdle in 2010.
He has largely failed to reproduce this form since and has disappointed on the most part, despite securing a further two Grade One successes.
The most recent of these was at Kempton on Boxing Day when just holding off the gallant challenge of Rock On Ruby, but the victory did little to impress punters.
Binocular is 7/1 in the Champion Hurdle odds, but this could prove major value if his recent breathing operation was a success.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: “Tony commented on his breathing after pulling up at Kempton
“We had a look and he’s had a very minor tweak of the soft palate. It doesn’t interrupt anything as it’s not invasive and the horse is already back in work and cantering.”
Denman and Captain Chris are among the numerous horses who have benefited from such as operation previously, with Denman finishing second in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and Captain Chris using it as a springboard to success in the Arkle.
With 7/4 Champion Hurdle favourite Hurricane Fly yet to run this season, some punters have doubts as to whether he will arrive at Cheltenham in optimum form.
Therefore, Binocular may prove more than decent each-way value for the Champion Hurdle, particularly if he turns up on a good day.