Al Boum Photo and Cyrname share top billing in this year’s Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications.
Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo followed up his success of 12 months previous in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March, while Paul Nicholls’ Cyrname inflicted a first defeat over obstacles on Altior.
Both horses achieved a rating of 173, 1lb ahead of Mullins’ two-miler Chacun Pour Soi and Nicky Henderson’s Santini, narrowly defeated in the Gold Cup.
Another 1lb lower on 171 are Nicholls’ dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux, Altior, Betfair Chase winner Lostintranslation and Monalee – with Delta Work back on 170.
Henderson’s Champ earned the top rating for a novice of 161 for his improbable victory in the RSA Chase – and is just ahead of of Samcro, Minella Indo and Fakir D’oudairies on 160.
The highest-rated hurdler was Mullins’ Sharjah on 164 for his defeat of Petit Mouchoir at Leopardstown in December.
Champion Hurdle winner Epatante, If The Cap Fits and Paisley Park are on 162.
The leading novice of the season was unsurprisingly Gordon Elliott’s Envoi Allen on 160 – with Shishkin (159), Abacadabras (158) and Goshen (157) not far behind.
Goshen’s figure was arrived at assuming he would have won the Truimph Hurdle by five lengths, had he not unseated at the last when well clear – as explained by Andrew Mealor, British Horseracing Authority Hurdle Team Leader.
“Goshen may have won by further than five lengths, we’ll never know, but the view was taken that he’d gone very hard between three out to the last,” said Mealor.
All the handicappers involved highlighted the early finish to the season as a reason some of the figures are down on previous years.
Martin Greenwood, BHA Steeplechase Team Leader, said: “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 two-mile 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 Soi, 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.”
Asked for one horse to follow each for next season, Greenwood nominated Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Indo- with Shay Quinn, IHRB National Hunt Handicapper, putting up his stablemate Captain Guinness.
Mealor’s selection was Colin Tizzard’s The Big Breakaway, fourth in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle, while Shaw feels there is more to come from Mullins’ County Hurdle winner Saint Roi.
One horse absent from the classifications is the very comfortable Cross Country Chase winner Easysland.
Greenwood said: “We find the cross-country races are a very specialist subject, and the ratings tend not to translate well to normal chase races.
“The rating we have for him, though, is 167 – which is very high – and we are finding that cross-country chases are improving every year.
“Look at Tiger Roll, for example.”