By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 19th February 2019
Racing Twitter has been largely aghast since it was revealed that Cyrname is now the highest officially-rated jumps horse in training after his 17-length victory in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase.
However, having thrashed Waiting Patiently, rated 170 pre-race, by such a distance and both Fox Norton (166) and Politologue (168) by further still, quite what else the handicapper could do is open to debate.
A quick look at some of the best chasers OR’s past and present…
Kauto Star – 180
Moscow Flyer – 180
Cue Card – 176 (at his peak)
Denman – 177
Altior – 175
Cyrname – 178
Ascot chase was good, but 178 is absolutely ridiculous from the BHA
— Alex Davies (@adavies147) February 19, 2019
Nicky Henderson’s Altior (175) remains very much the champion chaser of public sentiment, but whether or not Cyrname is ultimately flattered by his new mark, the question remains how can Altior best go about earning himself the unparalleled rating he appears to deserve?
Emulate his magical Seven Barrow’s stablemate
It’s easy to forget Altior’s victory in last year’s Champion Chase at Cheltenham was in the most part far from poetry in motion.
After just one prep run, in a season where breathing issues had kept him off the track, he travelled unconvincingly for much of the race before turning on the afterburners up the hill to win by seven lengths from the 167-rated Min – earning his current mark of 175.
This year, with a far more satisfactory build up, including three wins, he’s likely to arrive at the Festival in the kind of fettle in which he should aim at emulating Nicky Henderson’s previous legendary two miler Sprinter Sacre.
Having turned up to the 2013 Champion Chase rated 179, ‘Sprinter’ destroyed the previous year’s second Sizing Europe on the bridle by 19 lengths to earn a figure commensurate with his immense talent – 188.
Smash up the 2019 King George
Altior was a much-mooted entrant in last year’s King George and is already trading at 5/1 joint-favourite in the betting ahead of Boxing Day 2019.
The last two winners earned official ratings of 169 and 173 in doing so, but with Paul Nicholls already having touted Cyrname (6/1) as a potential candidate for the same race, the Grade 1 contest could have the potential for one horse to earn an enormous rating if both turn up.
Re-route to the Grand Annual and win by half the track
In the days of Arkle or Desert Orchid it was far less unusual for top horses to take part in and win handicaps giving stones of weight away to their rivals.
Could swerving beating the same old foes in the Champion Chase to take part in its handicap equivalent, the Grand Annual, offer an alternative way to bolster Altior’s BHA mark?
With the first three home in the latter race in 2018 rated 150, 152 and 149 respectively, a victory of a similar margin to his 63-length success against Black Corton in a Kempton novice chase back in 2016 could potentially offer him a left-field route to a handicap rating more in keeping with his current stature in the game.