Fly rated just 3lb short of Istabraq

HURRICANE FLY has officially been recognised as the best 2m hurdler since Istabraq with a rating just 3lb short of that given to the three-times Champion Hurdle winner at his peak.

The seven-year-old, beaten just twice in 13 starts since he made his debut for Willie Mullins three years ago, was given a rating of 173 in the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications announced yesterday, which he achieved when he beat his stablemate Thousand Stars easily in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.

He is assessed as having run to172 when he got home by a length and a quarter from Peddlers Cross in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on his previous start.

On the hurdle classifications, which the gathering of British and Irish handicappers warn cannot be directly compared to the chasers, Big Buck’s is once again on top as he achieved a rating of 174 for the third year in-a-row.

Irish handicapper Noel O’Brien said: “Hurricane Fly got the rating of 173 from Punchestown, he was probably 172 at Cheltenham.

“He has always looked a champion in waiting and he got his chance this year. I think he’s one of the best hurdlers we have seen for quite a while, the way he jumps and travels.”

Long Run, owned by Robert Waley-Cohen and trained by Nicky Henderson, was given the highest rating of 182.

This is short of Kauto Star’s mark of 190 last year and 186 the season before, but ties him with Denman from the 2007-08 campaign and comfortably ahead of Best Mate.

Long Run, who took the King George VI Chase and Gold Cup at the tender age of six, was placed 5lb ahead of Denman (177) in the three-mile division, and only the top two-and-a-half-miler Master Minded got closer on 178.

Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sizing Europe (177) was placed 1lb above his old rival Big Zeb, who reversed the placings when the pair met at Punchestown.

Top novice chaser was Wishfull Thinking (164).

Al Ferof and Spirit Son shared the top honours for a novice hurdler on 154.

The handicappers finished off with a horse to follow for the season, John de Moraville offering Surfing, O’Brien and David Dickinson opting for Oscars Well, Greenwood naming Mossey Joe and Smith picking Aiteen Thirtythree.


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