Binocular and Solwhit eye up Champion Hurdle hopes

DOUBTFUL duo Binocular and Solwhit have both been left in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle at the six-day stage after both impressed their trainers this week.

Binocular had been expected to miss the Cheltenham Festival after a recent injury, while pre-race favourite Solwhit was on the verge of being withdrawn after scoping badly on Monday. Both face a battle to be fit for Tuesday’s big race but remain in the final 17.

Two notable absentees, however, are one of the early favourites Dunguib and Quevega, although both have turned their attentions to other races in the Festival.

Binocular’s trainer Nicky Henderson has also declared last year’s winner Punjabi and Zaynar, while last year’s runner-up, Celestial Halo, representing Paul Nicholls, is again expected to challenge.

Nicholls, meanwhile, will not run Tataniano for Tuesday’s Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, instead opting to run in the Grand?Annual.

He was left out of the 17 six-day acceptors along with Long Run, who will instead run in the RSA Chase.

Market leaders Captain Cee Bee and Sizing Europe spearhead a strong Irish challenge, which also includes Willie Mullins’ trio of Quiscover Fontaine, Shakervilz and Sports Line.