Binocular once again finds himself the favourite in the Champion Hurdle betting after the Nicky Henderson horse returned to form at Kempton over the weekend to win the Christmas Hurdle. Binocular started the season at the head of the Champion Hurdle market following his win in the race last year, but he was quickly knocked off his perch by Hurricane Fly following his poor run at Newbury in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle in November. It is a hugely competitive market with Peddlers Cross and Menorah also being well backed for Cheltenham at this stage but it is Binocular who has been clipped into favouritism with most firms following his Kempton win. Binocular quickly picked up Overturn who has set a strong gallop in the Christmas Hurdle as well as comfortably dispatching Starluck in the process to impress connections and punters.
Henderson was quick to say that Binocular was only at 75% for the win at Kempton and should be at 100% by the time he arrives at Cheltenham in March with a run next month at Sandown in the Contenders Hurdle coming in between. The last couple of years do indicate that Binocular does come to hand in the spring and if that remains the case this season he will be extremely tough to beat in the Champion Hurdle at the Festival. Hurricane Fly looks to be his closest challenger and if he can arrive at Cheltenham fit he should also run a huge race for Willie Mullins as the betting suggests. He is certainly the strongest challenger from Ireland while perhaps the joker in the pack at this stage is Peddlers Cross who looks a real star for Donald McCain Jnr. Peddlers Cross won the Neptune Investment Novices Hurdle at the Festival last season, and with seven wins in-a-row to his name he is the contender with the most scope to improve while perhaps being the one with the most to prove on form.