Cossack the Don of 2014/15 Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications

19 May 2015 Racing/Fixtures
  • Don Cossack achieves rating of 175 in two categories making him Champion 3-mile-plus and 2 1/2-mile Chaser
  • Vintage year for Novice Chasers sees previous record rating surpassed twice in two days
  • Faugheen tops Hurdle Classifications in Irish domination of Hurdling divisions

Don Cossack has today been announced as the highest rated Jumps horse of the 2014/15 season at the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications press conference, hosted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the Irish Turf Club.

The Gordon Elliot-trained Chaser achieved a rating of 175 in two categories, both the 3-mile-plus Chasing division for his impressive success in the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup, and the 2 ½-mile Chasing division for his rout of the field in the Betfred Melling Chase at Aintree. This resulted in Don Cossack being named Classification Champion in both categories.

His rating of 175 puts him level with the likes of Best Mate and Kicking King in the pantheon of great Chasers since the commencement of the Classifications, and marginally ahead of See More Business and last year’s Classifications Champion Silviniaco Conti, who both achieved a rating of 174.

However, despite this impressive achievement, 2014/15 may be better remembered for the exploits of the Novice Chasing division, where the previous record rating was smashed not once but twice in the space of two days at the Cheltenham Festival.

First, the Willie Mullins-trained Vautour’s visually impressive demolition of the JLT Novices’ Chase field earned him a mark of 171 in the 2 ½-mile Novice Chase division, surpassing the previous record rating for a Novice Chaser since the Classifications began in the form of the 169 achieved by Sprinter Sacre in the 2-mile division in 2011/12.

Then, the very next day Coneygree became the first Novice to win the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup for 41 years, and in doing so earned a rating of 172, making him Champion 3-mile-plus Novice Chaser and surpassing Vautour’s new and short-lived record.

These were not the only impressive Novice Chase performances however, as earlier in a memorable Cheltenham Festival a further Willie Mullins-trained Chaser had earned a mark which would see him top a Novice Chasing division, this time in the 2-mile Chasing category. Un De Sceaux’s scintillating Arkle success earned him a rating of 168, only 1lb behind Sprinter Sacre’s old record, making him at that time the second-highest rated Novice Chaser of all time, until the exploits of Vautour and Coneygree knocked him down that pecking order.

Dodging Bullets completes the list of Chasing Classification Champions, his rating of 171 being earned in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, again at Cheltenham.

A further Mullins-trained superstar in the form of Faugheen comfortably topped the Hurdle Classifications with the 174 rating he achieved via his eight-length destruction of the 2-mile Hurdle Classification runner-up Arctic Fire (169) in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

His mark of 174 puts him behind only Istabraq (176) and Hurricane Fly (175) since the introduction of the Classifications, but there may yet be more to come from the 11-time winner considering he is only seven years of age and as yet unbeaten.

There were yet more impressive Novice performances in the Hurdling category, with yet another Mullins-trained and Rich Ricci-owned star Douvan topping the 2-mile division with a rating of 161 achieved in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. This is the joint-highest mark for a 2-mile Novice Hurdler since the Classifications began, an honour he shares with none other than Faugheen – as well as Jezki and Our Conor – in what is surely a golden age for Novice Hurdlers coming out of Ireland, and in particular the Mullins yard.

The 2 ½-mile-plus Novice Hurdlers were also topped by a Mullins-trained star in the form of Nichols Canyon whose seven-length success in the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novices Hurdle at Punchestown earned him a mark of 155. The Irish domination of the Hurdling division was completed by Jezki who earned a mark for 169 for his successful switch up in trip as he overcame old rival Hurricane Fly in the 3-mile Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown.

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

“Like all racing enthusiasts, I am already looking forward to next season given the high level of performances that we recorded over the last twelve months. If Don Cossack (175), Coneygree (172), Vautour (171), Djakadam (170), Road To Riches (168) and Don Poli (163) all turn up fit and well at Cheltenham Gold Cup next March what a race it will be. Who is to say that Don Poli will not improve past them all and have become the best Anglo-Irish chaser this time next year?

“On the hurdling front the Irish are undoubtedly enjoying a purple-patch at the moment, and producing some quality prospects, especially their Novices, but they may not have it all their own way next year as there are some exciting British prospects too, especially the trio trained by Nicky Henderson who filled the first three places in the Triumph Hurdle in taking fashion.”

Noel O’Brien, Senior Turf Club National Hunt Handicapper, 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 des 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.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The full Classifications data can be found on: Anglo-Irish Hurdle Classification, Anglo-Irish Chase Classification, Anglo-Irish Jump Classification Introduction, Anglo-Irish Novice Steeplechase Classification, Anglo-Irish Novice and Juvenile Hurdle Classification
  1. The list of category Champions is as follows:
Category Winner Rating
3-mile-plus Chaser Don Cossack (GER)* 175
2 ½-mile Chaser Don Cossack (GER)* 175
2-mile Chaser Dodging Bullets (GB) 171
3-mile-plus Novice Chaser Coneygree (GB) 172
2 ½-mile Novice Chaser Vautour (FR)* 171
2-mile Novice Chaser Un De Sceaux (FR)* 168
2 ½-mile-plus Hurdler Jezki (IRE)* 169
2-mile Hurdler Faugheen (IRE)* 174
2 ½-mile-plus Novice Hurdler Nichols Canyon (GB)* 155
2-mile Novice Hurdler Douvan (FR)* 161
British Champion Jockey AP McCoy
British Champion Conditional Jockey Sean Bowen
British Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls
British Champion Owner JP McManus
Irish Champion Jockey Ruby Walsh
Irish Champion Conditional Jockey J.J. Burke
Irish Champion Trainer Willie Mullins
Irish Champion Owner JP McManus


3. About the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications:

This is the sixteenth full Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications. It classifies the best Chasers and Hurdlers that were trained in either Britain or Ireland during the 2014-2015 season. It is not a handicap but a retrospective measurement of best sustainable performances during the recent season.

The Classifications are for all Chasers and Hurdlers down to a rating of 140. The Chasers are divided into distance categories of 2-miles, 2 ½-miles and 3-miles-plus and are included in the list in which the handicappers believe they have put up their best performance.

Champions may be included twice if they have put up their best performance in a different category.

The Hurdle categories are similar except that they are divided into two distances of 2-miles and 2 ½-miles-plus.

There is a separate classification identifying Novices rated above 140. Juvenile Hurdlers are included in the Novices section.

The ratings were agreed and compiled by;

Phillip Smith                             Great Britain
Noel O’Brien                            Ireland
David Dickinson                       Great Britain
Martin Greenwood                   Great Britain
John de Moraville                    Great Britain
Andrew Shaw                           Ireland
Mark Olley                               Great Britain
Chris Nash                               Great Britain
Graeme Smith                          Great Britain

The Handicappers are grateful for the assistance provided by

Eric Castela                              France-Galop