At his stable open day in September Nicky Henderson was looking forward to 2010 Champion Hurdle winner Binocular contesting the race for a fifth time. At the time he had not come back into training, so there had to be some doubt as to whether another Cheltenham effort would happen. Binocular had run only twice last season and just four times since December 2011.
Now we know why. The Daily Star reported Henderson as saying, “Extensive tests have been done on him and it appears he has a heart issue that is not going away so the decision was taken to retire him. I think you would have to conclude that there was something underlying that we couldn’t detect that would easily explain some of last season’s performances.”
Tony McCoy, who rode Binocular to nine of his 11 successes, was fulsome in his praise of the nine-year-old gelding. He said, “He was the fastest horse to get from one side of a hurdle to the other that I've ever ridden and I think only Make A Stand could even compare to him. He deserves the happy retirement that he's now going to enjoy at Martinstown (McManus's stud in Ireland).”
2011 RSA Chase winner Bostons Angel has also been retired. That was the last time he was seen in the winner’s enclosure. A switch to cross country chases seemed to have sparked fresh enthusiasm in him, and he finished runner up on his first two attempts in the new discipline, including the Glenfarclas Cross Country at Cheltenham’s International Meeting a year ago this weekend.
During the summer Bostons Angel moved from Jessica Harrington’s yard to that of David Pipe, who chose to send him back over regulation fences. He was pulled up in his first start for his new stable in the Becher Chase on Saturday, which led Pipe and the owners to take the decision to call time on his racing endeavours. Pipe said on his blog, “He jumped these National fences with aplomb under Tom Scu but going out onto the final circuit it became clear that his heart wasn’t in it and he was wisely pulled up before Becher’s. He will now be retired and will doubtless have a wonderful life with the Scouller’s who derived so much pleasure from his success.”
Jessica Harrington summed up the horse, saying in the Racing Post that he was, “a gentleman of a horse and a terrific servant to her stable.”