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Last Updated: 09/12/11 12:03pm
Menorah: Bidding for back-to-back wins
Philip Hobbs has his fingers crossed that Menorah can follow in the footsteps of Beech Road and record back-to-back wins in the StanJames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Toby Balding's Beech Road fell in a novice chase before reverting to the smaller obstacles to win the biggest hurdle prize of them all two months later.
Menorah, fifth in the Champion Hurdle in March, fell on his chasing debut at Exeter last month when looking sure to collect but a lack of suitable opportunities in that sphere has seen his sights switched.
"Realistically, the problem is when I'm looking for novice chases for him the next suitable ones aren't until either Kempton or Newbury after Christmas," said Hobbs.
"So therefore what have we got to lose by running in a hurdle race when he's fit and ready to go? Especially one that is worth so much money.
"Sometimes you can make a positive out of a negative and having gone to win his novice chase at Exeter and unseating, if he did stay over hurdles he is then still a novice for next season.
"I wouldn't be ruling out anything at the minute.
"Look at Big Buck's, if it works out like that it will be all right.
"And there was also a horse of Toby Balding's, Beech Road, that won the Champion Hurdle in 1989 and he only ran in it because he had fallen in a novice chase at Cheltenham in January and took a heavy fall.
"If we get a similar result it won't be so bad."
The headline news earlier in the week was that the owners of the Paul Nicholls-trained Brampour wanted to keep faith with conditional jockey Harry Derham, rather than switch to Ruby Walsh.
Derham has been in the plate for victories at Ascot and in the Greatwood at Cheltenham already this season and the owners stayed loyal, despite Derham not being able to claim.
He said: "I thought that Ruby would be riding him so I'm very grateful to the owners for keeping the faith.
"It's gone very well this season and I've been lucky enough to win twice on him, hopefully I can do a good job again.
"He definitely improved from Ascot to Cheltenham and I hope he improves again.
"Obviously I'm under no illusions that he's going to have to, it's a big step up so fingers crossed, he's going the right way.
"He's a great little horse, he really gets going when he passes a few horses and when he gets upsides one then he's very tough.
"I've spoken to Ruby a lot and to Paul and Dan (Skelton, assistant trainer) and everyone has been very helpful."
Donald McCain's incredible dual-purpose performer Overturn showed his class with a superb performance in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle a fortnight ago.
McCain had initially planned to give his charge a break afterwards but as the ground remains in his favour, he has decided to let him line up in this Grade Two heat.
"We're taking a bit of a chance running him again but he seems in great form at home and we'll give it a go," said McCain.
"The only reason we said we'd give him a break after Newcastle is because we thought the ground would have gone for him, but it's still good this weekend.
"He's a horse who loves his job and he seems in good nick, so we'll see how we get on."
Grandouet was one of the leading juvenile hurdlers around last season, finishing third in the Triumph Hurdle at this track and brought down at Aintree before bolting up in Grade One company at Punchestown.
He looked the likely winner when falling on his return to action at Wincanton, but he gained some compensation when scoring as he liked at Haydock recently.
His trainer Nicky Henderson said: "He's in good form and we'll see what happens.
"It's a different track to what he's been running on of late, but this is the obvious place to go and we'll find out a lot more about him."