Binocular won’t defend Champion Hurdle crown

BINOCULAR will not defend his Champion Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham Festival tomorrow after trainer Nicky Henderson was forced to withdraw his charge yesterday.

On British Horseracing Authority advice, Henderson was forced to withdraw the JP McManus-owned seven-year-old after he tested positive for a legal substance having been treated for an allergy.

Henderson said: “He had an allergy two weeks ago that did not respond to initial medication and on veterinary advice and well within normal parameters he required a further treatment the following day.

“As we were getting close to the most important race of the year and also because since that administration to Binocular another horse had tested positive for the same substance, I thought it prudent to take a precautionary test which surprisingly, let alone devastatingly, has also shown to be positive.”

The current champion had been heading the ante-post market at around the 7-2 mark just hours before yesterday’s declaration time.

Last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victor Menorah now heads a field of 11 for the highlight of the first day.