Backing odds-on Binocular to win Fighting Fifth a dangerous strategy
Binocular has been perhaps the most unfriendly horse to punters in recent seasons – but that has not prevented him being made odds-on to win on his seasonal reappearance in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
Nicky Henderson’s horse was well supported in the ante-post Champion Hurdle odds in March, but did not even make it to Cheltenham and then ran below par at Aintree and Punchestown.
However, he has had a summer off to rediscover the zing that saw him charge to Champion Hurdle glory in 2010 and punters will be hoping he is somewhere near his best at Newcastle.
Binocular is clearly the best horse in the race and it would be no surprise if he waltzed to victory in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle against a field that is largely short of top grade talent.
If this happened, his current horse racing odds of 4/6 will seem a massive price.
But given the fact that he is rarely seen at his best, it may pay to take a chance in Binocular having another off day and suffering defeat at Newcastle.
Binocular is yet to be seen at a racecourse since May and logic would suggest he will be trained to peak in March, when attempting to regain his Champion Hurdle crown from Hurricane Fly.
Therefore, he may need the run at Newcastle to shake off any rust from being off the course for six months and he has been beaten on his first start of a new season in each of the past two years.
One horse that should have no fitness concerns is Celestial Halo, who has already triumphed in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton earlier this month.
He is not far adrift of Binocular based on official ratings and horses trained by Paul Nicholls have largely been on fire of late.
Celestial Halo is 11/4 to win the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and he is certainly far more likely to produce his best at Newcastle – particularly if the front-running Overturn remains in the field and ensures a stamina test.