The annual publication of the Anglo-Irish Jumps Classification made good reading for Irish point-to-pointers who sat at the top of the standings across all three distances in the novice hurdle ranks.
It is the Supreme winner Shishkin who tops the charts in the two-mile division with a rating of 159 and he features among four former point-to-pointers to have received a rating of 150’s in the two-mile novice hurdle division – with Asterion Forlonge (154), Fiddlerontheroof (152), and Embittered (150) all featuring highly.
Unsurprisingly the undefeated star Envoi Allen is the top-rated novice hurdler across all distances with a rating of 160, whilst in the open middle distance category across all ages and experience, only the Coral Hurdle victor If The Cap Fits rates higher.
Of the stayers, it is the Albert Bartlett hero Monkfish who tops the classification on a mark of 152 closely followed by Fury Road on 151.
Andrew Mealor, BHA Hurdle Team Leader, said:
“In contrast to the older hurdlers, the top novices from 2019-20 look a potentially strong bunch who seem likely to make their mark in open company next season.
“Top of the pile on 160 is the unbeaten Envoi Allen, an impressive winner of the Ballymore at Cheltenham, and he’s closely followed by Shishkin (159) and Abacadabras (158), who put some eleven lengths between themselves and the opposition in the Supreme.”
That sentiment was supported by his Irish counterpart, Shay Quinn, Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) National Hunt Handicapper, who said:
“This season’s novice hurdlers appear to be above average and Envoi Allen (160) cemented his status as the Champion Novice with an emphatic display in the Ballymore.
“He always appears to have plenty left in the tank and 160 is a figure that he looks sure to improve on.
“The Royal Bond at Fairyhouse in December proved to be one of the key form races of the season with Envoi Allen beating Abacadabras (158), later second in the Supreme, and Darver Star (160), who went on to finish third in the Champion Hurdle.”
Over the larger obstacles, Samcro sits at the top of the pile for the middle distance novice chasers, that’s after his redemptive victory in the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, whilst fellow pointing exports Minella Indo (160) and Notebook (158) are the second highest rated novice chasers over three and two miles respectively.
IHRB National Hunt Handicapper, Shay Quinn added: “Samcro (160) justified the faith of his trainer, Gordon Elliott, when just touching off Melon (159) by the slimmest of margins in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
“Having fallen at the second‐last when challenging Fakir D’Oudairies (160) in the Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse and then disappointing at Limerick over Christmas, Elliott did a superb job in getting him back to produce his seasonal best at Cheltenham, ending the season at the head of the 2½‐mile Novice Chase division.”
Whilst having won three back-to-back Grade 1 prizes in the Hatton’s Grace, Irish Champion Hurdle and Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, Honeysuckle is unsurprisingly the highest rated mare within the middle distance category.