Champion jockey Tony McCoy paid handsome tribute to Binocular after the former Champion Hurdle winner was retired following the discovery of an underlying heart problem.
McCoy labelled the Nicky Henderson-trained, JP McManus-owned nine-year-old as the quickest jumper of a hurdle he has ever ridden in his illustrious career.
McCoy, who also won the Champion Hurdle on Make A Stand in 1997 and on Brave Inca in 2006, rode Binocular in 20 of his 22 races over timber.
He said: “He was the fastest horse to get from one side of a hurdle to the other that I’ve ever ridden and I think only Make A Stand could even compare to him. He deserves the happy retirement that he’s now going to enjoy at Martinstown (McManus’s stud in Ireland).”
Binocular was always held in the highest regard by connections, arriving at Seven Barrows in 2007 before making a winning debut as a four-year-old at Ascot in January 2008. Two months later he ran in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle rather than the Triumph Hurdle, but Captain Cee Bee, also owned by McManus, had not read the script and beat Binocular by two lengths.
Kept to his own age group at Aintree a month later, he beat the Triumph Hurdle winner Celestial Halo by seven lengths. The following year Binocular won twice before finishing third to Punjabi in the Champion Hurdle, beaten half a length as the 6-4 favourite.
His next season caused a bit of a stir as he was very disappointing in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and was beaten in the Christmas Hurdle before scrambling home at 1-7 at Sandown, and he seemed almost certain to miss Cheltenham.
However, he came to life at home just before the Festival and won the Champion Hurdle with a devastating display by three and a half lengths from Khyber Kim.
Despite never reaching those heights again, he did win two subsequent Christmas Hurdles at Kempton but in two runs last season he showed little of his old spark at Leopardstown and in the Champion Hurdle, in which he was beaten 28 lengths by Hurricane Fly.
Confirming the decision to bring the curtain down on Binocular’s career, McManus’s racing manager Frank Berry said: “He has been retired – he had a little heart complaint.”
He won 11 of his 22 races over obstacles and amassed nearly �800,000 in career win and place prize-money.Read the rest of the story British Horseracing Authority News Headlines