Saturday 16 December 2017

Binocular has seven in sights

BINOCULAR will face a maximum of seven rivals in the Betfred "Double Delight" Contenders Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.

Nicky Henderson’s 2010 Champion Hurdle winner, who was unable to defend his crown last March, has won the Listed event for the past two seasons at the prohibitive odds of 1-7 and 1-10 respectively, although on both occasions he was less than impressive.

Having been beaten last term at Aintree and Punchestown, he chased home Overturn in the Fighting Fifth first time out this season, before getting back on the Grade One trail at Kempton in the Christmas Hurdle.

Starluck, now with David Arbuthnot, would be his chief rival if he turned up, although he also holds an engagement in the Welsh Champion Hurdle on the same day.

Local Hero, a smart juvenile last term for Steve Gollings, could make his reappearance.

Clerk’s Choice will be looking |for an improvement on his two previous runs with Oliver Sherwood. Donald McCain’s Desert Cry, second to Celestial Halo in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock, is another competitive rival.

Zanir, Nampour and Dark And Dangerous have also been entered.

Nicholls eyes Bonus win over Cristal’s challengers

Cristal Bonus, an impressive winner on his debut over fences, heads eight entries for the Betfred Goals Galore Challengers Novices’ Chase at Sandown on Saturday.

The six-year-old trotted up by 25 lengths at Chepstow on his first start since being transferred to the Paul Nicholls stable from Evan Williams’ yard.

Previously trained in France, Cristal Bonus could now go for Grade One glory after this |two-and-a-half mile contest, registered as the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase, was reopened.

He currently has three entries at the Cheltenham Festival – the Arkle Trophy, the Jewson Novices’ Chase and the RSA Chase.

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