A cracking contest is in order for this year’s renewal of the Aintree Hurdle on Saturday.
Nicky Henderson’s 2010 champion hurdler Binocular is set to be taken on by Donald McCain’s Peddlers Cross, runner-up in this year’s Champion Hurdle.
Binocular was forced to miss the defence of his crown after treatment administered to him for an allergy failed to clear his system, and he steps up to two and a half miles (4000m) for the first time this weekend.
Peddlers Cross lost his unbeaten record last month but he did not go down without a fight to Hurricane Fly and he also has the advantage of winning over a similar trip at the meeting 12 months ago.
Oscar Whisky, the Champion Hurdle third and Binocular’s stablemate, adds further spice to an intriguing mix.
Celestial Halo has been nursed back to form by Paul Nicholls and was running a big race 12 months ago when falling two out, breaking Ruby Walsh’s arm in the process. Connections will be hoping for better luck this year.
David Pipe’s Ronaldo Des Mottes and Alan King’s Salden Licht are also engaged.
The Irish challenge is made up of the Willie Mullins-trained Thousand Stars, fourth in the Champion Hurdle, and Tom Mullins’ Oscar Dan Dan.