Tote Win: £2.20 Tote Place: £1.20,1.60
Straight Forecast: £3.99 Exacta: £4.40
Jackpot: £784.50, Pool: £36288.55, 32.84 winning tickets
Placepot: £20.90, Pool: £205919.86, 7185.25 winning tickets
Quadpot: £4.30, Pool: £11919.33, 2007.5 winning tickets
BINOCULAR recorded back-to-back wins in the race with a game performance over a progressive rival with Overturn beaten more than twice as far as he had been in last year's contest. Donald McCain's front-runner has been on the go for a while and his winter break has twice been postponed with ground conditions remaining on top. It's probable that he may not quite have been at his best on this occasion but he's a consistent performer and is the best guide to the form. He had beaten the winner fairly comfortably in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle but Binocular has been turned over in that race for three successive years now and clearly needs that first run to blow away the cobwebs. He had travelled well up to a point at Newcastle and, with hindsight, probably blew up that day and showed the benefit of that outing with a tenacious performance. The 2010 Champion Hurdle remains the best performance of his career and, in all likelihood, he would need to improve on that to get the better of a peak form Hurricane Fly and it has to be doubtful whether he is capable of making up that ground at this stage of his career. There is more encouragement for supporters of Rock On Ruby as he is still on an upward curve although it's a little offputting that, having got to the front, he didn't manage to keep Binocular at bay although a slight mistake at the last didn't help his cause. A narrow second in the Neptune, he successfully dropped back to the minimum with victory in the Gerry Feilden (form which had been franked) and proved that he can cut it in this company with this performance. Cheltenham is more likely to play to his strengths than this track and this was just his sixth run over hurdles so it's reasonable to expect further improvement but it will need to be forthcoming for him to emerge as a realistic winner of the Champion. Clerk's Choice posted a far more encouraging performance than on debut for his new trainer, wearing blinkers for the first time. He had been left behind by the principals when leaving his legs in the second last but this was much more like it and offers some hope for the future although he'll need further assistance from the handicapper.