Little to separate top hurdlers and novices as Sharjah tops charts on lowly 164
The 2019-20 campaign produced the lowest ratings on record for hurdlers with no horse rated 165 or higher for the first time in the Anglo-Irish jumps classification's history.
The Willie Mullins-trained Sharjah topped the billing with a rating of 164, 2lb higher than his Cheltenham conqueror Epatante – who won the Champion Hurdle by three lengths and was receiving a 7lb fillies' allowance. Last season, Espoir d’Allen recorded a rating of 170.
Paisley Park has been dropped 7lb on last year's rating to join If The Cap Fits on 162. Emma Lavelle's stable star won the Cleeve Hurdle in January before finishing a lacklustre seventh behind Lisnagar Oscar (160) in the Stayers' Hurdle.
While the older hurdlers have proved disappointing, the novice hurdling division looks strong and Envoi Allen boasts a rating of 160 to lead that category.
His rating is 1lb off the highest achieved by a novice in the classification's history – recorded by Jezki and Our Conor (2012-13), Faugheen (2013-14), Douvan (2014-15) and Labaik (2016-17).
A strong novice group is backed up by ratings of 159 for Supreme hero Shishkin and 158 for runner-up Abacadabras while Monkfish, winner of the Albert Bartlett, was marked at 152.
Goshen's electric Triumph Hurdle performance – before his unseat at the last – earned him a rating of 157, which is on a par with the rating given to Peace And Co (2015), but behind Our Conor's 161 mark, at the same stage in their careers.
Andrew Mealor, BHA hurdle team leader, said: “The final standings suggest 2019-20 was relatively low-key as far as the established hurdlers go, with no horse rated 165 or above for the first time since the classification was first published in 1999-2000. Though of course, the lack of an Aintree of Punchestown festival restricted opportunities at the top level at the back-end of the campaign.
“As usual, the Champion Hurdle was the key race in the two-mile division. Once her 7lbs mares’ allowance is factored in, Epatante can be considered an up-to-scratch winner, and she may well have more improvement to come given her overall profile.
“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.
"A mention must also go to top-rated juvenile hurdler Goshen who had run the opposition ragged prior to unseating at the last in the Triumph Hurdle. He too looks a very exciting prospect for the new season.”
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