Menorah claims Aintree Novice
(Healy Racing Photos)
Fifth in a Champion Hurdle, Phillip Hobbs' seven-year-old has not looked the finished article over larger obstacles this season, finishing a distant third in the Arkle last time.
But although Al Ferof was made favourite on Thursday, it was the 3/1 chance who delivered the goods under Richard Johnson.
Ruby Walsh set out to make all on the 6/5 favourite but was far from fluent on the second circuit as the eventual winner closed up after a blunder five out.
Fellow front-runner and stablemate Cristal Bonus refused to be shaken off but Menorah was well on top going over two out and Johnson quickly put the race to bed.
Cristal Bonus (7/1) plugged on well for second place at a distance of seven lengths, with five lengths back to the disappointing Al Ferof, while Pipite Rose travelled well into the race but failed to deliver in the straight.
"It's been a long haul this year with his jumping and everything else but aside from a couple down the back when he left his hind legs behind he has jumped very well today," said Hobbs.
"I don't think it was the extra trip - although I'm sure he got that all right - he's got plenty enough pace for two miles, I think it's just practice really.
"There's a two-and-a-half-mile novice chase at Ayr next Saturday or there's a two-mile novice chase at Punchestown he's entered in.
"He's very tough and he's in very good nick so running him quick wouldn't worry me but there's more money at Punchestown."
» All news for Thu, 12th Apr, 2012
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