Willie Mullins’ dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo and the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname have been confirmed as the joint-highest-rated Jumps horses of the 2019/20 season as the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications for the season are published.
Al Boum Photo’s thrilling battle up the Cheltenham hill with Santini was awarded a rating of 173, the same mark allocated to Cyrname’s memorable 2 ¼ length defeat of the great Altior in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot all the way back in November. It was the first time Altior had tasted defeat in 20 races over obstacles.
Chacun Pour Soi’s 3 ¾ length demolition of Min in Leopardstown’s Ladbrokes Dublin Chase saw him as the leading Chaser over the minimum 2m trip, and joint with Santini on 172 as the next highest rated Jumps horses.
Champ’s never-to-be-forgotten RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase success from a seemingly impossible position earned him the accolade of top Novice with a rating of 161, just ahead of the Irish contingent of Samcro, Minella Indo and Fakir D’oudairies on 160.
Over the smaller obstacles, Sharjah – again trained by Wille Mullins – ends the season as the highest rated hurdler. His mark of 164 was achieved through a 3 ¾ length victory over Petit Mouchoir in Leopardstown’s Matheson Hurdle. Epatante, If The Cap Fits and Paisley Park share the runner-up honours in the hurdling division with a rating of 162.
Envoi Allen heads a sparkling list of novice hurdlers with a rating of 160 for his scintillating 4 ¼ length success in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Shiskin (159), Abacadabras (158) and Goshen (157) are hot on his heels to add a fascinating look to those joining the elite hurdling ranks next year.
VIEWS FROM THE HANDICAPPERS
Martin Greenwood, BHA Steeplechase Team Leader, said: “At 173 both Al Boum Photo and Cyrname have been awarded the highest ratings in the steeplechase division in the truncated 2019/20 National Hunt season, with Chacun Pour Soi only rated 1lb inferior.
“Al Boum Photo became the first horse to win back to back Gold Cups since Best Mate, while Cyrname topped the mid-distance section for the second year running after defeating the previous dual 2m champion Altior (now 171) in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot. With Altior failing to be quite at his best, the Champion of the short-distance category falls to Chacun Pour Son, who was the Champion novice at the same distance the previous season.
“With no Aintree or Punchestown, all three at the head of the top novice lists are rated below recent years. Champ, in the staying division, marginally comes out on top overall on 161 on account of his win in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, where he came from a seemingly impossible position to grab the lead close home…this is the lowest rating in the staying novice rank since 2015/16.”
Andrew Shaw, Senior Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) National Hunt Handicapper, said: “Despite winning his second Gold Cup, Al Boum Photo (173) did not run up to his official mark of 175 and the fact that little more than seven lengths covered the first six home would indicate that this year’s race wasn’t the strongest renewal. However, this does not take anything away from what was a magnificent training performance by Willie Mullins. There is every chance that Al Boum Photo would have improved on this performance but for the abandonment of the spring festivals and his bid to emulate Best Mate’s three consecutive wins in the race will be eagerly awaited.
“Chacun Pour Soi (172) topped the 2‐mile chase division following his scintillating display in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown, accounting for the subsequent Ryanair Chase winner, Min (169). It was a shame that he did not get the opportunity to build on this performance, having been ruled out of the Queen Mother Champion Chase on the day of the race with an abscess. However, there will be some fascinating clashes to look forward to in this division next season with the likes of Altior, Defi Du Seuil and Politologue sure to mount a claim to the throne.”
Shay Quinn, Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) National Hunt Handicapper, said: “Samcro (160) justified the faith of his trainer, Gordon Elliott, when just touching off Melon (159) by the slimmest of margins in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. Having fallen at the second‐last when challenging Fakir D’Oudairies (160) in the Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse and then disappointing at Limerick over Christmas, Elliott did a superb job in getting him back to produce his seasonal best at Cheltenham, ending the season at the head of the 2½‐mile Novice Chase division.
“Fakir D’Oudairies heads the 2‐mile Novice Chase division. Having produced an electrifying display in the Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse, he stepped up on that performance despite being beaten in the ‘Arkle’ at Cheltenham. Special mention must also be given to the mare, Put The Kettle On (155), superbly handled throughout the season by Henry de Bromhead. She beat Fakir D’Oudairies by 1½ lengths at Cheltenham, but because of the 7lb mares’ allowance comes out 5lbs lower in terms of ratings.”
Andrew Mealor, BHA Hurdle Team Leader, said: “The final standings suggest 2019-20 was relatively low-key as far as the established hurdlers go, with no horse rated 165 or above for the first time since the classification was first published in 1999-2000. Though of course, the lack of an Aintree of Punchestown festival restricted opportunities at the top level at the back-end of the campaign.
“As usual, the Champion Hurdle was the key race in the two-mile division. Once her 7lbs mares’ allowance is factored in, Epatante (162) can be considered an up-to-scratch winner, and she may well have more improvement to come given her overall profile.
“In contrast to the older hurdlers, the top novices from 2019-20 look a potentially strong bunch who seem likely to make their mark in open company next season. Top of the pile on 160 is the unbeaten Envoi Allen, an impressive winner of the Ballymore at Cheltenham, and he’s closely followed by Shishkin (159) and Abacadabras (158), who put some eleven lengths between themselves and the opposition in the Supreme. A mention must also go to top-rated juvenile hurdler Goshen (157) who had run the opposition ragged prior to falling at the last in the Triumph Hurdle. He too looks a very exciting prospect for the new season.”
Andrew Shaw, Senior Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) National Hunt Handicapper, said: “Although Honeysuckle just outpointed Benie des Dieux in the two-and-a-half mile Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, both have been given a mark of 159, with Benie Des Dieux deemed to have produced her best performances over three miles earlier in the season. Taking into account the 7lbs mares’ allowance, both can be considered as the best horses in their respective categories.”
Shay Quinn, Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) National Hunt Handicapper, said: “This season’s novice hurdlers appear to be above average and Envoi Allen (160) cemented his status as the Champion Novice with an emphatic display in the Ballymore. He always appears to have plenty left in the tank and 160 is a figure that he looks sure to improve on. The Royal Bond at Fairyhouse in December proved to be one of the key form races of the season with Envoi Allen beating Abacadabras (158), later second in the Supreme, and Darver Star (160), who went on to finish third in the Champion Hurdle.”