sport

Menorah bounces back to form

Menorah recorded his first win for over a year with a 17-length success in the Listed Bet365 Oaksey Chase at Sandown.

The race was run in memory of Lord John Oaksey, who was tireless in founding and fundraising for the Injured Jockeys Fund.

The strapping nine-year-old has been running in some lofty company but his jumping had let him down on occasion and trainer Philip Hobbs admitted to a mixture of relief and delight after Richard Johnson brought the 11-4 chance home in style from Gullinbursti.

He said: "It's nice it all came right for him but it's all a bit late. He jumped the best he's ever done here and at Aintree last time, so it is a pity the season stops now, really.

"There might be a conditions race for him in a few weeks, but I just don't know. Ground is important to him but it is his jumping that is the issue."

McCoy was crowned champion for a remarkable 19th consecutive season and marked the occasion with victory aboard Dispour (14-1) in the opening bet365 Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

Winning trainer Donald McCain said: "It was depressing because we wanted to get this horse into the Fred Winter handicap at Cheltenham. I thought we were fairly handicapped but he didn't get in. There's nothing you can do about it and that opportunity slipped by.

"Then stupidly we went to Aintree with him. He ran a nice race and could have been a bit closer, but he got stopped when he was making his move. This is a nice little compensation, I suppose."

Nicholls is already looking to next season with Southfield Theatre (15-8 favourite), who landed the bet365 Select Hurdle in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies.

He said: "He is a really interesting horse for next season. He looks like evolving into an exciting chaser - he jumps a fence already and he's an improving horse.

"He wants three miles really - that would be his ideal trip. He stays well and jumps nicely, so something like the RSA Chase would perhaps be in our minds."

The Dan Skelton-trained Ballincurrig (11-2) outbattled Christopher Wren in the bet365 Josh Gifford Handicap Chase to deny handler Nick Gifford victory in the race named in honour of his late father.

Skelton said: "I believe in this horse. He travelled well and got to the front way too soon. While he might get further, I don't want to negate his biggest asset which is jumping at speed.

"I will have an historical look at what it takes to get into the Galway Plate."

Wayne Hutchinson took over from the injured Robert Thornton to partner 8-1 shot L'Unique to victory for trainer Alan King in the closing bet365 Handicap Hurdle.