The International Meeting as always provided plenty of Cheltenham Festival clues this weekend but perhaps the most exciting performance of the meeting was that of Menorah, the Philip Hobbs horse was in fine form to win the International Hurdle and he is the new favourite for the 2011 Champion Hurdle. Menorah clashed with Silviniaco Conti and the exciting Cue Card in the International Hurdle but he had far too much class for his rivals, all three were in contention over the final fence but Menorah simply stormed clear when asked for a bit more by Richard Johnson. It was an impressive run and the bookmakers were clearly impressed as he was cut across the board in the ante post Champion Hurdle market. He is a horse that loves Cheltenham as he has proven on countless occasions and with a Festival win already to his name in the Supreme Novices last season he has to be taken seriously.
The win for Menorah can be added to his victory last month in the Greatwood Hurdle at the Open Meeting which was also at Cheltenham, and the worrying part for his rivals is that he is continuing to improve as we approach the 2011 Cheltenham Festival. The Champion Hurdle is always a competitive race and that is looking particularly true this season with a number of horses being well backed already this season. The crowded betting market includes last years winner Binocular, who always tends to come good in the spring, and Peddlers Cross who entered the frame with a fine win in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle as well as Menorah. At the moment though it is Menorah who heads the way following his win in the International Hurdle and it is now understood that connections will keep him fresh and send him straight to the Champion Hurdle in March.