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Kempton Park

  • 14:35 williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle 2m

  • (Grade 1) £65,000 added 4yo+ 5 ran
  • Winner £37,018 2nd £13,890 3rd £6,955 4th £3,464
  • Going: Good to Soft
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 3m 49.00s
  • Off time: 14:35:16

Binocular digs deep

Principals both cut for Champion Hurdle

Last Updated: 26/12/11 3:04pm

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Binocular (left): Christmas Hurdle winner for second time in the same calendar year

Binocular (left): Christmas Hurdle winner for second time in the same calendar year

Binocular beat Rock On Ruby by a neck in a thrilling renewal of the Grade One williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Nicky Henderson's seven-year-old was bidding for a second win in the race this year as he won last season's delayed contest in January and he was well-backed to do so, going off the 5/4 favourite.

Yet backers were made to sweat as Rock On Ruby looked the most likely to prevail until a mistake at the final flight checked his rhythm ever so slightly.

It was enough for champion jockey AP McCoy to get a winning tune out of Binocular who took it up in the closing stages and hung on from a rallying Rock On Ruby.

Overturn took them along but he was beaten in the home straight and was eight lengths behind in third at the line.

Sky Bet cut Binocular and Rock On Ruby to 10/1 from 14s for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

Honest AP

McCoy said: "It was great he won and full credit to Rock On Ruby as he's an improving horse and took it up to him.

"It was brilliant he won, but I just feel he's a long way off the horse that won the Champion Hurdle.

"He's got plenty of issues and problems and whether it's stopping him from fulfilling his real potential I don't know.

"He's inclined not to race as keenly as he did before, but I was just disappointed he wasn't giving me the same feel he has in the past."

Delighted

Henderson said: "He's still got a bit to find, even though he has done it well and I am chuffed to bits with him.

"AP (McCoy) said, he was half hoping the horse would be off the bridle going down the back because they would go so quick and that is the way it turned out.

"When he really does jump he is terrific and he winged the last, although it took him time to get there.

"Fair play to him, he has beaten Overturn far enough today but you have to keep piling the work into him so I still think there is room for improvement.

"I was talking to JP (McManus, owner) the other day and we really do want to campaign the horse this season.

"We might dodge the Sandown race (Contenders Hurdle) but I certainly hope to give him another run somewhere before the Champion Hurdle."

Plans

Paul Nicholls said of Rock On Ruby: "I just wish I could get him hurdling a bit more sharply, but it was still a great race.

"I think Cheltenham will suit him a bit better.

"I don't know what I'll do, whether I'll find another race somewhere, but I've got to find options for Zarkandar and Brampour too. Maybe we'll run all three (in the Champion)."

Beryl McCain, representing her son, Donald, said of Overturn: "He has run another cracker. I'm not sure what Donald will do with him but he might have a bit of a break now as he has been quite busy."

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