Galopin Des Champs tops Anglo-Irish Jumps Classifications for 2023/24

23 May 2024 BHA Features

Dual Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs has retained his crown as the leading Jumps horse in the end-of-season Anglo-Irish Jumps Classifications.

The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old was rated 179 for the 2023/24 season – the same mark he achieved when topping the Classifications in 2022/23 – following a three-and-a-half-length defeat of Gerri Colombe (170) in the Cheltenham showpiece, which sets up a mouthwatering attempt to become the first horse since Best Mate to win three consecutive Gold Cups next March.

Impressive victories in the Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup preceded his Gold Cup success, although his season was bookended by defeats to Fastorslow (171) in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase and Punchestown Gold Cup.

Leading two-miler chaser El Fabiolo, who was the highest-rated novice in last year’s Classifications, earned the runners-up spot in the overall standings with a rating of 175, 4lbs ahead of third-placed Fastorslow.

Jonbon topped the intermediate chase division on 170 and is the highest-rated British-trained horse in the Classifications, while Grand National winner I Am Maximus was rated 169 along with the Lucinda Russell-trained Ahoy Senor.

Jonbon, the highest-rated British-trained horse in the 2023/24 Classifications

With last year’s Champion Hurdler Constitution Hill absent since winning the Christmas Hurdle (158) on his sole start in the 2023/24 season, the path in the two-mile hurdle division was laid clear for State Man who topped the hurdle Classifications with a rating of 169 following an unbeaten campaign consisting of five Grade 1 victories.

Stayers’ Hurdle winner Teahupoo cemented his position at the head of the staying division with an unbeaten campaign which earned a mark a 164, 1lb ahead of Impaire Et Passe who topped the intermediate hurdle category on 163.

Just 1lb further behind was stablemate Ballyburn (162), who finished the season comfortably clear of his novice hurdle compatriots after registering victories in the Baring Bingham at Cheltenham and Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. He rates as an exciting prospect for next season and his return will be eagerly anticipated.

The Willie Mullins-trained duo of Corbetts Cross and Gaelic Warrior led the novice chase Classifications on a rating of 166 after winning their respective Cheltenham engagements impressively in March.

Martin Greenwood, BHA Steeplechase Handicap Team Leader, said:

“The Irish dominated the 2023/24 National Hunt season with five of the six chase division champions trained in Ireland, headed by Galopin des Champs who was rated the best horse in training for the second successive year. El Fabiolo was the clear champion of the two-mile division, while Jonbon took the mid-distance category courtesy of his Melling Chase win at Aintree and subsequent success over a shorter distance at Sandown where he beat a below-par El Fabiolo.

“Although Jonbon was the only British-trained horse who topped 170, a further six were rated 165 or above, including Ahoy Senor – 169 after his excellent runner-up effort in the Bowl at Aintree for the second year running – and the late Shishkin on 168.

“In the novice section, Corbetts Cross and Gaelic Warrior share top billing on 166 to lead the staying and two-mile divisions respectively, while Il Etait Temps topped the intermediate division with a mark of 160.

“Grey Dawning and Ginny’s Destiny, who finished first and second in the Marsh Golden Miller Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, are two of six British-trained novices that featured in the chase Classifications.”

Andrew Shaw, Senior IHRB National Hunt Handicapper, said:

“Galopin Des Champs began and ended his season with a defeat but in between he recorded three Grade 1 victories, including a second successive win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. However, his win in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown when beating subsequent Gold Cup second Gerri Colombe by 23 lengths reads as his best performance.

“His end-of-season rating matches that of last season, but with an impressive bunch of young novice chasers waiting in the wings, along with the likes of his Punchestown Gold Cup conqueror Fastorslow and Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Gerri Colombe, he will need to be at his best in his attempt to emulate Best Mate by winning three consecutive Gold Cups.

“The Novice Chase division produced some very exciting young prospects such as Corbetts Cross, the 17-length winner of the National Hunt Novices’ Chase, Fact To File, an equally impressive winner of the Brown Advisory, and Gaelic Warrior, who although beaten on his final start at Punchestown was an emphatic winner of the Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham. All of these, along with the likes of Spillane’s Tower (155), Grangeclare West (159) and Inothewayurthinkin (158) make for a very exciting Chase division to look forward to next season.”

Andrew Mealor, BHA Hurdle Handicap Team Leader, said:

“Although his task in the Champion Hurdle was made easier by Constitution Hill’s absence, the admirable State Man is a top-class hurdler in his own right and fully deserves top honours in the hurdling ranks having gone through the season unbeaten in the top two-mile races on both sides of the Irish Sea.

“Constitution Hill produced the best performance by a British two-miler when easily winning the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on his sole outing of the campaign, however, strictly on the numbers, the best effort by a British-trained hurdler in 2023/24 came from Langer Dan, who twice went close against mid-division leader Impaire at Passe at the backend of the season.

“2023/24 saw something of a changing of the guard in the staying division with seven-year-olds Teahupoo, Crambo and Strong Leader landing the three open Grade 1 staying events held in Britain. Stayers’ Hurdle winner Teahupoo rounded off his unbeaten campaign with an emphatic success at Punchestown, cementing his position as the division leader on a mark of 164.

“Ballyburn was the clear standout in the novice ranks, and the 162 rating he achieved when winning the Baring Bingham at Cheltenham in a fast time has been bettered only by Constitution Hill (170), Iris’s Gift (168) and The New One (165) amongst novice hurdlers since the start of the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications in 1999/2000.

“Sir Gino ended the season as top juvenile courtesy of his success at Aintree, and that performance was also the best of the season by a British-trained novice.”

Shay Quinn, IHRB National Hunt Handicapper, said:

“The ultra-consistent State Man added another five Grade 1s to his CV in the absence of Constitution Hill and should have no problem adding to his ten Grade 1s next season. Willie Mullins also trained the top middle-distance hurdler in Impaire Et Passe, who looks every inch a chaser with plenty of improvement to come as he begins to fill his frame.

“Mystical Power was the top-rated two-mile novice hurdler after landing back-to-back Grade 1s at Aintree and Punchestown. His jumping improved throughout the year and there’s every chance the son of Annie Power will be a Champion Hurdle contender next season.

“However, as things stand his form isn’t on the same level as stablemate Ballyburn, who was the clear top novice for the season after demolishing the field by thirteen lengths in the Baring Bingham. He has all the attributes required to become an exceptional chaser should connections go down that route.

“Completing a clean sweep for Willie Mullins in the novice categories is top stayer Dancing City, who improved throughout the year as he went up in trip and is an exciting prospect for staying chases.”

Notes to editors:

1. View the full 2023/24 Anglo-Irish Chase Classification here.

2. View the full 2023/24 Anglo-Irish Hurdle Classification here.

3. This is the 25th full Anglo-Irish Jump Classification. It classifies the best steeplechasers and hurdlers that were trained in either Britain or Ireland during the 2023-2024 season, or in France if that performance was achieved in Britain or Ireland. It is not a handicap but a retrospective measurement of best sustainable performances during the recent season, so there may be differences from current handicap marks.

4. The classifications are for all chasers and hurdlers down to a rating of 150. Originally the classification included horses rated 130 and above, which was later revised to 140 and above. 2020/21 was the first time the classification has been limited to 150 and above.

5. Both the steeplechasers and hurdlers are divided into distance categories of 2 miles to 2 miles 2.5 furlongs, 2 miles 3 furlongs to 2 miles 6.5 furlongs and 2 miles 7 furlongs plus. They are included in the list in which the handicappers believe they have put up their best performance.

6. The ratings were agreed and compiled by: Andrew Shaw and Shay Quinn (Ireland), Martin Greenwood, Andrew Mealor, Mark Olley, Chris Nash, Michael Harris, James Norris and Graeme Smith (Great Britain).

7. View previous Anglo-Irish Chase Champions here.

8. View previous Anglo-Irish Hurdle Champions here.