©Healy Racing Photos
By Thomas Weekes
The Irish Champion Hurdle did not pass without controversy with the raceday Stewards holding an enquiry into the running and riding of Binocular, ridden by Tony McCoy.
The former Champion Hurdler was patiently ridden in the race before failing by a nose to catch runner-up Thousand Stars, with the pair well held by easy winner Hurricane Fly. The report reads:
"The Stewards enquired into the running and riding of Binocular (FR), ridden by A. P. McCoy, and trained by Mr. Nicky Henderson. Evidence was heard from the rider and trainer concerned.
Mr. Henderson, stated that he didn’t give his rider detailed instructions as he knew the horse well. The horse was reappearing after an absence from the racetrack since last march, but had done plenty of work and his weight was identical to his weight at Cheltenham last year. He added that the weather conditions in the U.K. were a hindrance to his preparation of the horse for today’s race. He expressed himself satisfied with the ride but maintained that the horse is better on better ground.
A. P. McCoy confirmed he wasn’t tied into specific instructions but intended to maintain a position following Hurricane Fly. From before the second last hurdle he felt he didn’t have the horse to challenge the winner but hoped to be able to obtain second place..
Despite riding out his mount and squeezing him all the way up the straight he was unable to get by the second placed horse .He also added that the horse leaned left towards the running rail up the straight due to tiredness.
The Stewards also received a report from the Turf Club Veterinary Officer who reported that Binocular (FR) was post race normal. Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards accepted the explanation offered.
Judge Tony Hunt was unable to attend this enquiry and Mr. John McStay acted as Chairman. "