Native River flanked by Might Bite and Anibale Fly
Image supplied by the BHA

2018 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River has been announced as the highest rated Jumps horse of the 2017/18 season at the annual Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications press conference today, hosted in London by the British Horseracing Authortiy (BHA) and Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board.

The Colin Tizzard-trained chaser achieved a rating of 176 for his thrilling four-and-a-half length defeat of Might Bite (172) in what was one of the great racing duels in this year’s Gold Cup in March.

His rating of 176 puts him ahead of the likes of three-time winner of the race Best Mate (175) as well as Kicking King (175) and War of Attrition (173), but marginally behind recent winners Don Cossack (177) and Bobs Worth (180).

Champion Chase hero Altior (175) gained top honours in the two-mile division after his third successive unbeaten campaign over obstacles, whilst Waiting Patiently’s win in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase in February (170) was sufficient for him to end the season as the top-rated chaser over two-and-a-half miles.

Footpad (166) and Presenting Percy (165), the two Irish-trained novices who have lit up the two-mile and staying novice chase divisions this season unsurprisingly gained top honours in their respective categories. Al Boum Photo, who was last seen making a dramatic last-fence exit at Punchestown, ended the season with the highest rating of any novice chaser over intermediate distances (159) following his win in the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in April.

Over hurdles, it was Faugheen’s authoritative 13-length victory in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown which guaranteed him the honour of highest-rated hurdler of the season, ending with a rating of 169.

Despite an unbeaten campaign which saw him claim his second successive victory in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, Buveur D’air ended the 2017/18 campaign rated 166, 3 lb lower than the peak rating of 169 he achieved last season for his victory in the Grade 1 Betway Aintree Hurdle.

Amongst the novices it was the exciting Samcro who dominated with ratings of 158 over shorter distances and 160 over longer trips. The latter rating was the highest posted by a novice over extended distances since The New One in 2012/13 and follows Samcro’s impressive victory in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Phil Smith, Head of Handicapping for the BHA, said:

“Native River has been rated best chaser in Great Britain and Ireland on 176 after winning as thrilling a Gold Cup as I have seen. The way he slugged it out with Might Bite was enthralling and his rating places him joint 9th of the champion 3 mile chasers in the 19 year history of the Anglo-Irish jump classifications. Might Bite on 172 would have been a worthy champion but he came up just short at Cheltenham. Next Christmas at Kempton might well be a different story.

“In the 3 mile novice category, Presenting Percy on 165 rates only behind Coneygree (172) Thistlecrack (170) and Gloria Victis (166) in the ratings this century.

“Waiting Patiently (170) who missed the three main festivals and Al Boum Photo (159) who ran in 2 festivals but didn’t complete in either of them were placed top in the 2 and a half mile section. It was fairly straightforward to have Altior (175) as champion 2 mile chaser but perhaps next year he will not have things quite so much his own way as Footpad has been rated top novice at 2 miles on 166.”

David Dickinson, BHA Handicapper, said:

“The inability to rate a dual Unibet Champion Hurdle winner higher than 166 for his exploits during the season says as much about the lack of competition in the division during the winter, particularly in Great Britain, as it does about Buveur d’Air’s merits as a racehorse. Of the 26 hurdlers rated 150 and above in the two mile category, exactly half are housed in the two main Irish yards. Defeating Irving, The New One and John Constable prior to Cheltenham neither gave Buveur d’Air a stern test nor gave handicappers anything on which to genuinely judge his considerable ability. As for the Champion Hurdle itself, he failed to win with the authority he had shown in the race the previous year, or indeed at Aintree the following month.

“With regard to the novices, the form of Samcro’s Leopardstown win in February was franked by the likes of Paloma Blue, Whiskey Sour and Early Doors at Cheltenham the following month and rates him as the highest novice in the two mile category on 158. Two pounds lower, Summerville Boy’s win in the both the 32Red Tolworth and the Skybet Supreme make him the best home trained novice, alongside the top rated juvenile We Have A Dream, who was so impressive at Aintree having missed Cheltenham.”

Martin Greenwood, BHA Handicapper, said:

“In a underwhelming hurdling season, Faugheen is rated the best stayer and best overall hurdler of 2017/18. Once rated in the mid-170’s, Faugheen has been awarded 169 after strolling home in a tactical Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown. Those left trailing in his wake that day were Cheltenham Stayers winner Penhill (165) and Aintree Stayers Hurdle winner Identity Thief (162). 162 is also the mark awarded to the best British stayer, Sam Spinner, who was found wanting in the spring having progressed rapidly over the winter.

“There are several promising novices in the division, none more so than the Samcro, who bar falling at Punchestown fulfilled all the hype. Rated 160 after a ready win in the Ballymore Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, Samcro also tops the 2m novice hurdling list courtesy of his win at Leopardstown the previous month.”