Menorah beats Hunt Ball in the Peterborough
(Healy Racing Photos)
In a race twice abandoned in recent weeks due to bad weather, Menorah silenced doubts over his ability to handle the very testing conditions as he hit the front five out and kept on well to deny the staying-on Hunt Ball by three and a half lengths.
Trainer Philip Hobbs was absent, still nursing the broken ankle he sustained when staying with fellow handler Nigel Twiston-Davies earlier in the month, but
owner Graham Whateley - who hailed King George runner-up Captain Chris as having "run like a lion" - was delighted to see the 7/2 winner return to form.
"I'm delighted, I knew he was in good condition and Philip said he'd never looked better," he said.
"He jumped one fence very big but pinged the rest.
"We'd always aimed for the Peterborough, even when it was at Huntingdon, then Exeter and we're very pleased to see him win at Kempton.
"Everyone is asking if he is going to go to the Ryanair, but I never like to make any plans - the most important thing is to get him back home and see how he is tomorrow."
Menorah was cut from 20/1 to 10/1 for the Ryanair by Sky Bet and also 20/1 from 25/1 for the Champion Chase.
But Hunt Ball's owner Anthony Knott said that his charge would go back up in trip at the Festival for the Gold Cup.
"I'd like to go for the Ascot Chase next and then the Gold Cup is the main target," he said.
Cairdin provided the mother and son team of Danny & Mags Mullins with a double on the day at Leopardstown and their third winner of the Festival, as he took the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle.