JP McManus hopes to keep up proud Cheltenham record

Colm Kinsella looks forward to Cheltenham, where there will be a strong Limerick interest once again.

Colm Kinsella looks forward to Cheltenham, where there will be a strong Limerick interest once again.

LEADING owner JP McManus has issued an upbeat report on his big Stan James Champion Hurdle hope, Binocular, ahead of Tuesday’s stg£370,000 showpiece contest at the Cheltenham Festival.

McManus told the Cheltenham Preview Night at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare on Sunday that 2010 champion hurdler Binocular is in ‘great shape’ ahead of hurdling’s blue riband. Binocular is currently 5/1 second favourite to regain the crown, with current champion hurdler Hurricane Fly heading the betting market at 10/11.

McManus, the Festival’s most successful owner with 32 wins, nominated Darlan, the current 5/1 favourite for the festival opener, the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, on Tuesday, as his best chance of having a winner at Prestbury Park next week.

McManus, who is seeking his fifth win in the Champion Hurdle, expects the Nicky Henderson-trained Binocular to run well. “Nicky (Henderson) says he has Binocular in great shape. If he’s beaten there won’t be any excuses,” JP McManus said.

“There hasn’t be any hiccups. We were very happy with him at Wincanton. Nicky felt he would benefit from the race. If Hurricane Fly has an off day, Binocular may be able to give him a run for it. Hurricane Fly is a very good horse, but Binocular is well at the moment.”

Bruree-based trainer, Enda Bolger may only have one runner, race regular Garde Champetre, in Tuesday’s Glenfarclas Handicap (Cross Country) Chase.

Cross-country king Bolger has a terrific record in the marathon race and the 13-year-old, Garde Champetre, has won the race twice before.

The Bolger trained, JP McManus-owned On The Fringe is a leading fancy to land the Class 2 Christie’s Foxhunter Chase on Friday, March 16. On the Fringe, who finished fourth in last year’s Christies Foxhunters’ chase under Croom jockey John Thomas McNamara, is generally available at 6/1 to land the prestigious prize.

A host of racing personalities provided expert opinion on the marquee races at the recent Cheltenham Preview Night in Adare. Among them were acclaimed tipster, Tom Segal, the Racing Post’s ‘Pricewise’, whose fancies included First Lieutenant in Wednesday’s RSA Chase. Segal was be joined by Nick Luck, the TV broadcaster on Channel 4 and Racing UK, leading UK trainers Philip Hobbs, who includes Menorah, Wishful Thinking, Fingal Bay and Captain Chris among his festival runners and Oliver Sherwood who has sent out six winners at the annual National Hunt extravaganza. Local jockey Andrew McNamara and record point-to-point winning rider Derek O’Connor also provided valuable tips for patrons.