Don is top of charts
THE two highest rated horses from the 2014/15 season revealed at the Anglo-Irish Jumps Classification yesterday were both Irish-trained as Don Cossack topped the chase rankings and Faugheen unsurprisingly was ranked as the highest rated hurdler.
Gordon Elliott's Don Cossack is currently the highest rated jumps horse in training after he was handed a rating of 175, the same as three-time Gold Cup winner Best Mate achieved in his prime.
The apple of Elliott's eye raced seven times last season and only suffered defeat once when finishing third in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and he capped off a memorable year by winning the Melling Chase at Aintree under AP McCoy and the Punchestown Gold Cup last month when he beat Cheltenham's Gold Cup second and third Djakadam and Road To Riches under Paul Carberry.
Don Cossack is now enjoying a well deserved break at his owner Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud and has the potential to be a vintage renewal of the Gold Cup at Cheltenham next March.
He is currently the second favourite behind the Willie Mullins-trained Vautour who despite missing the Punchestown Festival had surpassed the previous record high rating for a novice chaser at 171 was also headed by Coneygree on 172 after Mark Bradstock's eight-year-old became the first novice to win the Gold Cup in 41-years.
The exciting Un De Sceaux headed the two-mile novice chase category on 168 which was just below Sprinter Sacre's 169 in his Arkle Chase winning year.
The 1999/00 season marked the introduction of the ratings and since then only Istabraq and Hurricane Fly have headed the 174-rating given to Faugheen in the hurdling division and next best behind him was Aintree and Punchestown winner Jezki who is 169.
The ratings are released by the Senior Jumps Handicapper's at the BHA, Phil Smith, and the Turf Club, Noel O'Brien, and reflecting on the year O'Brien said: "2014/15 was an exciting year with huge performances from the novices in particular. I don't remember a time when the likes of Coneygree, Vautour, Un De Sceaux and Don Poli all raced in the same season and there are exciting times ahead from all of these horses.
"Over hurdles, the hugely-progressive Faugheen claimed his first Champion Hurdle and confirmed his class with an emphatic win at Punchestown - it is ironic that his biggest challengers next year could be in his own stable."