Ballyburn rated fourth-highest novice hurdler since Anglo-Irish jumps classifications began in 1999-2000

Paul Townend riding Ballyburn clear the last to win the Gallagher Novices' Hurdle during day two of the Cheltenham Festival
Ballyburn: fourth-highest rated novice hurdler since the 1999-2000 seasonCredit: Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Ballyburn has been awarded the fourth-highest rating for a novice hurdler since the Anglo-Irish jumps classifications began in the 1999-2000 season.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old has been rated 162 following victories at the top level at the Dublin Racing Festival, Cheltenham Festival and Punchestown Festival.

His most impressive success came in the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March when Paul Townend’s mount stretched clear for a 13-length success.

Constitution Hill (170), Iris’s Gift (168) and The New One (165) are the only novice hurdlers to record a higher end-of-season rating since the turn of the millennium, with Ballyburn described as a “clear standout in the novice ranks” by BHA hurdle handicap team leader Andrew Mealor. Unlike Ballyburn, Iris’s Gift and The New One raced in Grade 1 open company in their novice campaign.

Dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs remains the leading jumps horse in Britain and Ireland.

He was rated 179 for last season – the same figure he achieved when topping the classifications in 2022-23. His John Durkan and Punchestown Gold Cup conqueror Fastorslow was given a rating of 171 and Gerri Colombe was awarded 170.

Andrew Shaw, the IHRB’s National Hunt handicapper, believes Galopin Des Champs will have to be at the peak of his powers to win a third Gold Cup next season. Corbetts Cross (166) and Fact To File (162) will be among last season’s novice chasers bidding to stake their claim in the staying-chase division.

Shaw said: “Galopin Des Champs’ end-of-season rating matches that of last season, but with an impressive bunch of young novice chasers waiting in the wings, along with the likes of his Punchestown Gold Cup conqueror Fastorslow and Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Gerri Colombe, he will need to be at his best in his attempt to emulate Best Mate by winning three consecutive Gold Cups.”

El Fabiolo (175) is the second-highest rated chaser despite being pulled up in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham and finishing a four-length second to Jonbon (170) in the Celebration Chase at Sandown on his last two starts. He won the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown in February.

State Man (169) is up 4lb from last year’s classifications after a perfect 5-5 campaign in top-level hurdles, including wins in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the Irish equivalent at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Constitution Hill (158) was only in action once last season, winning the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton in December, but that was still the best two-mile hurdling performance by a British-trained horse.

Lossiemouth (156) was described as “hard to know how good she is” by IHRB National Hunt handicapper Shay Quinn, and she could potentially try to emulate recent Champion Hurdle-winning mares Honeysuckle, Annie Power and Epatante next season.

The best effort by a British-trained hurdler was Langer Dan (160), who twice went close behind middle-distance ratings leader Impaire Et Passe (163) at Aintree and Sandown. Teahupoo (164) topped the stayers' hurdle ratings after Grade 1 wins at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals.

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