Coneygree posts novice best in Cheltenham Gold Cup

Coneygree has become the highest-rated novice chaser over any distance this century following his sensational performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Coneygree posts novice best in Cheltenham Gold Cup

British Horseracing Authority head of handicapping Phil Smith has handed the eight-year-old a m ark of 172 following his all-the-way succe ss in the blue riband last Friday, just a pound above Vautour after his scintillating display in the JLT.

Smit h said: “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.

“Surprisingly Sprinter Sacre’s record novice rating only lasted three years as Vautour’s romp in the JLT Novices’ Chase on Thursday has been assessed at 171 by my colleague Mark Olley. Vautour was the easiest of all of the (Willie) Mullins victories this week and looks a fantastic prospect for next season

“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.”

Meanwhile Sire De Grugy will make just one more appearance this season at either Aintree, Punchestown or Sandown after losing his crown in last week’s Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The undoubted star of the two-mile division last season, Sire De Grugy missed the bulk of the current campaign through injury and disappointed on his return to action in last month’s Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.

However, after getting back on track with an excellent display at Chepstow, the nine-year-old returned to Cheltenham with strong claims, but was under the pump from an early stage and was well-beaten in fourth place.

Sire De Grugy could now either step up to two and a half miles in Aintree’s Melling Chase, make a first appearance in Ireland or bid for a third successive victory in the Celebration Chase on the final day of the season at Sandown.

Moore said: “He’s come of the race fine. The ground was just a bit quick for him and maybe I ran him back too quick after Chepstow. The Chepstow race probably took more out of him than we initially thought, but we had to go (to Cheltenham).

“We’ll enter him for Aintree and Punchestown and I’ve also got the Celebration Chase at Sandown at the back of my mind.”

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