Menorah announced his arrival on the Stan James Champion Hurdle stage with a career-best performance under top-weight in the £100,000 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle. Last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner was pushed right to the wire by Bothy but kept finding for Richard Johnson and pulled out more close to the line for a neck success. Johnson kept the five-year-old out wide for much of the trip in search of better ground and he went on to provide Hobbs with a third win in the race following on from Rooster Booster (2002) and Detroit City (2006). Menorah is 12/1 with Stan James for the Champion Hurdle and 10/1 with Paddy Power.
High-class Menorah successfully conceded weight all round in the featured £100,000 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, but runner-up Bothy was admirable in defeat. He and rider Danny Cook, the 3lb conditional jockey who was riding the horse for the first time in public, were beaten a neck after a flank-to-flank duel along Cheltenham ’s uphill finishing straight. Manyriverstocross, the 11/2 favourite, finished third beaten a further five lengths.
It should be noted that two of the last five winners of the £100,000 Greatwood Hurdle, the Hobbs-trained Detroit City (2006) and Sizing Europe (2007) have both started favourite for the 2011 Champion Hurdle at The Festival in the same season, only to disappoint. However, the 2007 Greatwood second Osana ran much better in the 2008 Stan James Champion Hurdle, finishing runner-up.