Lieutenant takes charge in Bowl
Ryanair Chase runner-up First Lieutenant (7-2) went one better with a determined performance in the Betfred Bowl Chase at Aintree.
Mouse Morris' raider didn't have the speed to peg back Cue Card at Cheltenham, but stepped up in distance here, he was prominent from early on the second circuit in the hands of Bryan Cooper.
Menorah jumped the last in front and appeared set for victory, but First Lieutenant's stamina kicked in and he wore down Philip Hobbs' charge to score by three-quarters of a length. Even-money favourite Silviniaco Conti made a couple of errors as the action hotted up and was a never-nearer third.
Morris said: "He really deserved one. He's got a big heart and he jumped super for Bryan, but I thought we were struggling turning in. He hasn't run a bad race all season and was second in all the good handicaps and Grade Ones. I'm delighted for the horse and the team at home. I wouldn't have thought he'd go to Punchestown, but we'll see."
Cooper said: "I've been knocking on the door with this lad all season so it's great he's got his head in front. He's been up against Bobs Worth, Tidal Bay, Cue Card - he really deserves it.
"I was on and off the bridle the whole way but he jumped exceptionally well and I was always trying to save a bit. It's a shame Davy (Russell) can't be here, he's riding at home today at Thurles with not a bother on him."
Paul Nicholls said of beaten favourite Silviniaco Conti: "Ruby said if he hadn't missed the ditch he would have won. I suppose if he hadn't fallen in the Gold Cup we could have ridden him more positively as he's not a speed horse, more of a stayer. In the future we'll ride him like we did at Haydock."
Philip Hobbs said of Menorah: "I'm really pleased, it's the first time he's had decent ground all season and I'd be inclined to finish him off on a high note now."