THISTLECRACK’s impressive win in the Ryanair World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival was as good as any performance produced by a staying hurdler since the start of the Anglo-Irish classifications in 1999/2000, according to the BHA handicapper.
Thistlecrack has received an official rating of 174 on the back of last week’s seven-length win, which is the peak figure Big Buck’s achieved during an illustrious career which famously included four World Hurdle successes.
Three-time World Hurdle winner Inglis Drever and Baracouda, who won the race twice, both achieved a peak rating of 172.
BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood said: “I’d been one of plenty to wax lyrical about his [Thistlecrack’s] chances leading up to the race, and by golly he was as impressive as one could have wished for.”
He added: “I was so visually impressed with Thistlecrack that I feel he deserves to be above both Baracouda and Inglis Drever, but have not yet propelled him beyond Big Buck’s, whom I am happy to share the 174.”
Don tops standings
Thistlecrack may now be the highest-rated hurdler in training but the highest-rated horse is recent Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack, who earned a rating of 177 for his win last week.
Cue Card, who fell at the third-last in the Gold Cup when holding every chance, had previously topped the standings on 176, a figure he achieved for his narrow success in the William Hill King George VI Chase.
Un Temps Pour Tout, who dished out a seven-length beating of Holywell in the Ultima Handicap Chase with the pair nine lengths clear of the third, has been awarded a rating of 159 and is the highest-rated staying novice chaser. For comparison, Blaklion, a game winner of the RSA Chase, has been rated 154.
Douvan, who extended his unbeaten record for Willie Mullins to eight wins when storming clear in the Racing Post Arkle, remains the highest-rated novice chaser at any distance with a rating of 161, though he didn’t need to show his best form to win at Cheltenham according to handicapper Graeme Smith.
“I’ve no doubt Douvan is a top-class prospect, but the gallop he set meant they didn’t really race until after the third last and as such he was unable to hand out the beatings he might otherwise have done,” Smith explained.
Smith added: “Douvan’s pre-race rating was 161, which is what he’d been given as a hurdler in last season’s classification, and that’s where he’ll stay for the time being. Here’s hoping he shows us more at Punchestown.”