While Bincoluar, Hurricane Fly and Oscar Whisky have grabbed the headlines in recent weeks, one horse is quietly going about his Champion Hurdle preparations.
Punters haven’t seen Menorah since a stunning 4½-length victory over the 2/1 Supreme Novices’ favourite Cue Card at Cheltenham in December.
It was that performance that saw Menorah become many punters fancy for the Cheltenham Festival’s Champion Hurdle, and the Phillip Hobbs-trained star is 4/1 to win the Champion Hurdle.
Hobbs has since stepped up Menorah’s training in preparation for the Champion Hurdle and the Somerset-based trainer witnessed a “brilliant” piece of work from his star six-year-old on Tuesday.
“I couldn’t be happier with him but this has got to one of the hottest Champion Hurdles for a while,” said Hobbs.
“He’s one of those horses that has no faults. He’s got a fantastic temperament; he enjoys his work and is still improving.”
Plenty of trends are in Menorah’s favour ahead of the Champion Hurdle race on the 15th February and an ongoing pole on the Racing Post website sees Menorah top the voting.
23 of the last 27 winners of the Champion Hurdle go into the race on the back of a win, 16 of the last 22 winners have won at Cheltenham before and 18 of the last 20 winners started in the first six in the betting.
Menorah fulfills this criteria and having performed so well up the Cheltenham hill in December, Menorah certainly looks the part.
But he must beat reigning champion and 7/2 Champion Hurdle favourite Binocular, Irish start and 9/2 chance Hurricane Fly, and last year’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle winner Peddlers Cross (11/2).
It will be a fascinating race and likely to be the highlight of the Cheltenham Festival.