Grandouet made amends for an uncharacteristic fall at Wincanton when beating Marsh Warbler by eight lengths at Haydock. The four-year-old had plenty left in the locker and will be fancied to continue on an upward curve but he's back against older horses here and has been beaten in two previous starts over this C&D. MENORAH, on the other hand, loves it around here and, though carrying 4lb more than when successful in this contest 12 months ago, is fancied to record course victory number four. Last season's Champion Hurdle fifth would have won on his chasing debut at Exeter last month had he not blundered and unseated Richard Johnson at the second-last. He'll be back over the larger obstacles sooner rather than later but can pick up this nice prize in the interim. Overturn goes from strength to strength and simply ran the finish out of Binocular in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle last time. Donald McCain's trailblazer may not be as well suited by Cheltenham, however, and was behind the selection and Clerk's Choice in the Champion Hurdle. Brampour has improved over the summer and has already won valuable handicaps here and at Ascot this term. This is another step up the ladder, however, and he was well behind Grandouet in the Triumph Hurdle in March, though is still preferred to Irish raider Pittoni and the enigmatic Sanctuaire.
Menorah (IRE) 8-13fav (11-1) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 6th, led next, 6 lengths clear and going well when mistake and unseated rider 2 out, in a race won by Shammick Boy (11-1) at Exeter 2m 1f nov chs (2) gd in Nov, 3 ran.
Overturn (IRE) 7-4 (11-7) Made all, ridden before 2 out, kept on well from last, won at Newcastle 2m hdl G1 (1) gs in Nov beating Binocular (11-7) by 4 1/2l, 5 ran.
Brampour (IRE) 12-1 (11-4) Mid-division, headway when not fluent 2 out, chased leaders on inside between last 2, led last, ridden and stayed on well flat, won at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Nov beating Olofi (10-6) by 2 1/2l, 23 ran.
Clerk's Choice (IRE) 4-6fav (11-4) Not fluent, chased winner, mistake 3rd, not fluent next, hit 2 out, ridden before and hit last, stayed on same pace and always held flat, 2nd of 4, 1 3/4l behind The Jigsaw Man (11-0) at Sandown 2m Listed hdl (1) gd in Apr.
Grandouet (FR) 8-13fav (11-6) Held up in rear, smooth headway 3 out, joined leader next, led on bit between last 2, 6 lengths clear when hit last, easily, won at Haydock 2m 4yo hdl (2) gs in Nov beating Marsh Warbler (11-6) by 8l, 5 ran.
Sanctuaire (FR) 14-1 (11-12) Behind, headway 3 out, switched left and chased leaders approaching last, ridden and one pace flat, no impression, 8th of 23, 8l behind Brampour (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Nov.
Pittoni (IRE) 9-4 (11-10) Chased leaders in 3rd, mistake 3rd, pushed along 2 out, ridden and no impression before last, kept on same pace, 3rd of 4, 8l behind Thousand Stars (11-10) at Punchestown 2m hdl G1 (1) sft in Nov.
Stormy Weather (FR) 66-1 (11-7) Held up in rear, went 4th from 4 out, weakened before 3 out, 4th of 5, 31l behind Overturn (11-7) at Newcastle 2m hdl G1 (1) gs in Nov.