Douvan tops classifications

The mighty Douvan came out on top of the classifications

Douvan was crowned the highest-rated National Hunt horse of last season at the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications press conference on Wednesday.

The Willie Mullins-trained chaser achieved a rating of 174 for his eight-length defeat of subsequent Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John (169) in the Grade One Paddy Power Cashcard Chase at Leopardstown in December.

His rating of 174 puts him level with the likes of Big Zeb and Azertyuiop in the ranks of top two-mile chasers since the commencement of the Classifications, but marginally behind last year's champion chaser Sprinter Sacre, who was rated 1lb higher.

The event, hosted by the British Horseracing Authority and Irish Turf Club, also named novice chasers Thistlecrack and Altior as the top dogs in their respective divisions with ratings of 170.

Only Coneygree, who was rated 172 after his Gold Cup-winning season in 2014-15, earned a higher rating at three-miles-plus in the history of the Classifications.

The ill-fated Many Clouds achieved a perch of 171 for his defeat of Thistlecrack in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, making him the highest rated three-mile-plus chaser of the season.

Fox Norton was given a mark of 169 for his six-length victory in the JLT Melling Chase at Aintree last month, rounding out the list of older champions over fences.

Nicky Henderson's Buveur D'Air dominated the hurdles categories, claiming both the two-mile and two-and-a-half-mile-plus titles.

He was rated 167 for his four-and-a-half-length defeat of My Tent Or Yours in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, whilst his five-length defeat of the same horse over four furlongs further at Aintree earned him a rating of 169.

The novice hurdlers were topped by the enigmatic Labaik, who earned a rating of 161, seeing him on a par with the likes of Douvan, Faugheen, Jezki and Our Conor as the highest rated horses at two miles since the Classifications began.

Phil Smith, head of handicapping for the BHA, said: "The most significant aspect last season was the aggressive and successful way the top novice chasers were campaigned.

"The number of novice chasers included at 140+ was up 18 compared with the previous season.

"Douvan, the previous season's top novice, improved his rating from 169 to 174 thanks to a scintillating performance at Leopardstown at Christmas where he beat the future Gold Cup winner.

"That was Sizing John's first run of the season and his only defeat and although he clearly improved for stepping up in trip, he is no slouch at two miles."

David Dickinson, BHA handicapper, said: "The decision to bring Buveur D'Air back from a novice chasing career proved a masterstroke, as his slick jumping of the smaller obstacles saw him run to a perfectly respectable Stan James Champion Hurdle winning figure of 167, a figure he improved on by a couple of pounds over two and a half miles at Aintree, with a more authoritative success over his luckless stable companion My Tent Or Yours."

Martin Greenwood, BHA handicapper, added: "Buveur D'Air on 169 also tops the staying division of the hurdlers, with his smooth Aintree success rated the best hurdle performance of the season over any distance.

"He is rated superior to Unowhatimeanharry and Nichols Canyon who both won at the big Festivals.

"For the novices, Presenting Percy and West Approach share the honours in the staying novice arena and both gained their 157, 4lb higher than both Champagne Classic and Penhill who won at the Cheltenham Festival."


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