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PEDDLERS CROSS made a successful start to his second season as a hurdler and put himself firmly into the Champion Hurdle picture with a convincing success. The Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle winner was one of the lowest-rated top novices for a long time but victories here and by Menorah in the Greatwood suggest that they are well up to scratch. The drop back in trip in a race run at a steady pace (set by Bygones Of Brid) was a potential problem for Donald McCain's charge but he proved his versatility and speed for the two mile division with a game display to keep his unbeaten record intact. He raced in second until joining Bygones Of Brid at the first flight (third last) in the home straight and saw off the challenges of Binocular and then Starluck as he kept pulling out more. He will be expected to improve for this return and will be better suited by a more strongly run race. Starluck travelled as well as ever in rear and Timmy Murphy was keen to delay his challenge until the last possible moment; he more or less got upsides in the run to the line but never really looked like mastering the eventual winner. He has been labelled a bridle-horse in the past which is a little harsh but flat tracks certainly suit him best and he should continue to acquit himself creditably in the two mile division with the Christmas Hurdle his next target and connections expect him to improve for this run. Binocular was a major disappointment in last year's renewal at Newcastle but hurdled with his trademark fluency and moved strongly into a challenging position in the straight. Tony McCoy looked a little uneasy approaching the second last but was still vying for the lead jumping the last and it wasn't until the final half a furlong that they gave way. This was a satisfactory return to action from the reigning Champion Hurdler who didn't appear to have too hard a race and he can be expected to improve significantly from the run having reportedly taken a blow coming to the last; last season was more or less a write off prior to March and, in all probability, there is really only one race that matters in his campaign. This was a more encouraging performance from Bygones Of Brid who had proved very disappointing on his seasonal return (as he has in the past) and chase debut; connections have the choice of handicap hurdles or going back over fences. Nearby has made rapid strides over the summer - climbing almost 2 stone in the weights - but proved very disappointing on this step up in class; he may be better suited by spring ground and deserves a break after a successful period but there is a strong suspicion that his mark flatters him.