Irish assessor backs Rashaan trainer over rating hike
Irish handicapper Noel O’Brien on Monday offered his take on the controversy surrounding the British handicapper giving Rashaan a rating 15lb higher than his Irish mark, saying he did not believe the horse merited such a large hike.
Rashaan's trainer Colin Kidd said he was "in a state of shock" having learned the rating of 154 for the Betfair Hurdle on February 12 and all but ruled out a trip across the Irish Sea for his stable star.
After beating Apple’s Jade and Petit Mouchoir in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle in November, Rashaan was handed a career-high rating in Ireland of 139.
Apple’s Jade and Petit Mouchoir both went on to win Grade 1s subsequently, but O’Brien said Rashaan had held a fitness edge over his rivals at Down Royal and that he would not have taken the form literally.
He said: “I think the WKD Hurdle in which Rashaan was quite a difficult race to interpret, which most conditions hurdle races are. All handicapping and race-reading is purely interpretation.
“David Dickinson took a view in Britain that Rashaan ran way above himself but I took a different view.
“Rashaan had run six days prior to Down Royal in the November Handicap and had been fit from a summer campaign, while both Apple’s Jade and Petit Mouchoir were having their first start of the season.”
O’Brien went on to explain how he used the previously exposed My Manekineko to add further context to his analysis of the race.
“My Manekineko finished last of the four but was beaten just over eight lengths. My Manekineko was an exposed seven-year-old rated in the 120s, so is a pretty open book.
“Either one of two things happened: Rashaan and My Manekineko ran career-best races or the two Gigginstown runners ran below themselves and needed the run on their first starts of the season. I went with the latter.
“It was a judgement call and David was completely entitled to take the view he did. It’s worth noting that Rashaan is only five now and it's quite possible he has improved.”