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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Douvan rated best but novice Altior breathing down his neck

Douvan scores at Leopardstown over Christmas
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Douvan has been crowned the highest rated horse in Britain and Ireland but Altior was described as having "broken the mould" as the scene was set for a showdown between the two superstars next season.

With a mark of 174, achieved when defeating Sizing John to win the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, Douvan came out on top despite his defeat in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March.

The message from the British and Irish handicappers responsible for agreeing the mark, however, was clear on Wednesday: there could be more to come but only with the help of Altior.

"We had hoped to see the real Douvan at Cheltenham but unfortunately he was injured during the race," said the Irish Turf Club's Andrew Shaw.

"I would say he is potentially better than that. Hopefully we'll see him next year against Altior. That would really be a mouthwatering clash. He could be a lot better than 174."

Altior gives an early fence plenty of height on the way to victory in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown

Altior was the only other two-miler to reach 170, a mark no other novice has ever achieved in the category, with Douvan handed a rating of 169 last year.

Sprinter Sacre was also allotted 169 in 2012, although BHA handicapper Graeme Smith said on Wednesday that in hindsight, Nicky Henderson's subsequent Champion Chase winner should have been rated higher.

Smith said he is convinced Altior achieved more as a novice than his Irish counterpart and also defended his performance when winning the Arkle, a display that left some underwhelmed.

"Altior is gunning for Douvan and at 170 he has broken the mould for novices," said Smith. "He tested himself outside novice company against the best, meaning his novice form has more substance than Douvan's.

"He has won all 11 starts over obstacles and his form is rock solid. Many people were a bit underwhelmed by the Arkle but not me. When you break down the race into sections, it was clearly more a measure of how the race was run than any chink in Altior's armour."

Buveur D'Air the hurdling king

Elsewhere, Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D'Air topped the rankings for both two mile and two miles three furlongs plus over hurdles, with marks of 167 and 169 respectively.

Labaik was the highest rated novice or juvenile hurdler on 161, with Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil not far off that standard with 157.

Special Tiara was the horse to benefit from Douvan's Champion Chase woes but with a mark of only 167, he is the lowest-rated winner of the Cheltenham showpiece in the history of the rankings. Fox Norton, meanwhile, was the best middle-distance chaser with a mark of 169.

Chase classifications

Many Clouds 171
Thistlecrack 170
Sizing John 169
Our Duke 168
Minella Rocco, Native River, Outlander 166

2m3f - 2m6.5f
Fox Norton 169
Cue Card, Un De Sceaux 168
Djakadam 166
Sub Lieutenant 162
Smad Place, Yorkhill 161

Douvan 174
Altior 170
Special Tiara 167
God's Own 166
Sire De Grugy 165
Ar Mad 162
Great Field, Min, Sir Valentino 160

Hurdle classifications

2m - 2m2.5f
Buveur D'Air 167
Wicklow Brave 164
Yanworth 163
Arctic Fire, My Tent Or Yours 162
Labaik, The New One 161
Brain Power, Petit Mouchoir 160

Buveur D'Air 169
Unowhatimeanharry 167
Nichols Canyon 166
Lil Rockerfeller, Un De Sceaux 164
Supasundae 160
Sutton Place, Snow Falcon 159

I would say he is potentially better than that. Hopefully we'll see him next year against Altior. That would really be a mouthwatering clash

Key data

Douvan Altior
E.W. Terms
Sky bet