Altior clinched the jumps trainers’ championship for Nicky Henderson with a superb victory in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown.
The crack novice treated last month’s Champion Chase hero Sizing Tiara with disdain as he brushed aside the Irish raider, who had set the pace until the second-last fence. Altior (30-100 favourite) sprinted clear for Nico de Boinville to take his 100 per cent record over fences to six with a ruthless eight-length triumph.
Henderson said: “He’s top class. I think we’ve always known that.” De Boinville added: “He really is a star that shines very brightly. It’s an incredible achievement for him and a great day all round. He was still a novice coming into open company. He picked up so well. It was just effortless.”
Menorah signed off his career in spectacular style by winning the Oaksey Chase for the fourth year in a row. The 12-year-old, trained by Philip Hobbs, put in an immaculate display of jumping in the hands of champion jockey Richard Johnson as he put the race to bed a long way out.
Sailing over the obstacles, Menorah (9-4) led over the Railway Fences on the second circuit and soon had his rivals toiling.
Though Traffic Fluide closed the gap on the run to the line, he was still four and a half lengths behind the game and gallant veteran. Hobbs told ITV Racing: “To win that race four times in a row is amazing. That’s his last race, he’s been retired.”
A tearful Graham Whateley, who owns the horse with his wife Diana, added: “He’s put us on the stage. He was just a fabulous horse. I can’t tell you what it’s like. He deserves this. Four times on the bounce, what a guy. He’s gone out at the top. He’s been fantastic, we are very, very lucky.”
Among Menorah’s 15 victories in 43 starts included the 2010 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Manifesto Novices’ Chase, the Peterborough Chase and the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He amassed over £667,000 in prize-money and will spend his retirement at Johnson’s farm in Herefordshire.