Don Cossack top chaser with mark of 175

Don Cossack has been announced as the highest-rated jumps horse of the 2014/15 season in the Anglo-Irish Jump Classification on a mark of 175.

Gordon Elliott’s chaser crowned a tremendous campaign by winning both the Melling Chase at Aintree and the Punchestown Gold Cup, resulting in him being named champion in both the three-mile-plus and the two-and-a-half-mile chasing divisions.

His rating puts him level with the likes of three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate in the pantheon of great chasers since the commencement of the classifications.

The Mark Bradstock-trained Coneygree became the first novice in 41 years to win the Gold Cup in March and in doing so earned a rating of 172, 1lb ahead of Vautour, who himself surpassed the previous record rating for a novice chaser after achieving a mark of 171 in winning Cheltenham’s JLT Novices’ Chase in scintillating style.

Arkle Trophy winner Un De Sceaux topped the two-mile novice chasing division with a rating of 168, just 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.

Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Dodging Bullets tops the two-mile chase category with a rating of 171, while unbeaten Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen comfortably tops the hurdle classifications with the 174 rating he achieved at Prestbury Park, putting him behind only Istabraq (176) and Hurricane Fly (175) since the introduction of the classifications.

Aintree and Punchestown winner Jezki (169) is the top two-and-a-half-mile plus hurdler, while Douvan (161) and Nichols Canyon (155) were the top novice hurdlers at two miles and two and a half miles plus respectively.

Speaking at a press conference hosted by the British Horseracing Authority and the Turf Club, the BHA’s head of handicapping, Phil Smith, 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 12 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 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next Marc, 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?

Meanwhile Richard Hannon will still have two runners in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday – despite Estidhkaar being forced to miss the race with a dirty scope.

Hannon on Monday stated his intention to run the Champagne Stakes winner after being thrilled by a piece of work at the weekend, but plans have had to be shelved.

He will now be represented by Ivawood, third behind Gleneagles at Newmarket, and Lexington Times.

“It’s a shame, but Estidhkaar’s scope was not great and you need to be 100 per cent if you are going to be a player in a Classic,” he said.

“We’ll give him time to recover and look for something else.

Sixteen colts are still in the Classic, with impressive Newmarket winner Gleneagles topping the list.

His trainer Aidan O’Brien has also left in Cape Clear Island, Highland Reel, Sir Isaac Newton, Smuggler’s Cove, The Warrior and War Envoy.

Willie McCreery feels Devonshire deserves her place in the line up after she was supplemented by Godolphin for Sunday’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

The Fast Company filly has been second on both her outings in Group Three company this season and in an open year connections felt it was worth taking the plunge.

Having chased home Dermot Weld’s Stormfly over seven furlongs in April, she turned that form around but was beaten by Kissed By Angels a month later.

“She seems in good form and the conditions won’t bother her,”said McCreery.

“I don’t particularly think she needs soft ground ground to be seen at her best, but she seems to handle it a lot better than others.

“It could be very tacky by the weekend and we know she goes through it.”


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