Passing the crown – Vautour to Coneygree
BHA Head of Handicapping Phil Smith speaks about the sensational Novice Chase performances withnessed at Cheltenham last week:
“In February 2000, Gloria Victis won the Racing Post Chase by a very easy 10 lengths off a rating of 151. It was only his fifth chase and at the end of the season in the Anglo-Irish Jumps Classification he was allocated a figure of 166. This remained the highest rated performance by a Novice over any distance for over a decade.
“However in the 2012 Arkle, Sprinter Sacre attained a mark of 169 by his comfortable seven length win over Cue Card and a small but very select field on only his fourth ever chase, making him the highest rated Novice this century. From there Sprinter Sacre went on to post a level of 188 the following season, second only to Kauto Star (190) since 2000.
Surprisingly Sprinter Sacre’s record Novice rating only lasted three years as Vautour’s romp in the JLT Golden Miller Chase on Thursday 12 March has been assessed at 171 by my colleague Mark Olley. Vautour was the easiest of all of the Mullins victories this week and looks a fantastic prospect for next season when he has to take on the older horses, probably over further.
“Amazingly Vautour was only “King for a Day” as just over 24 hours later, Coneygree posted a remarkable mark of 172 when winning the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup making HIM the highest rated Novice chaser over any distance this century. As in his previous wins, Coneygree’s time was particularly quick and he never saw another horse.
“There were some raised eyebrows when I assessed him at 166 after his win in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury, making him a higher rated Novice than the great Denman himself. There will be very few observers disagreeing now. Of course, Denman went on to prove himself an all-time great achieving a rating of 182 and winning his second Hennessy Gold Cup off a mark of 174. Coneygree will have to win a first one off 172.”