Timeform: Neptune Could Have Won Gold Cup

Tue 17th Apr 2012, 14:28

Neptune Collonges (grey horse) jumping Bechers Brook
©Healy Racing Photos
Timeform say Neptune Collonges' John Smith's Grand National win at Aintree last Saturday is the best they have ever rated.

Just a month after Sprinter Sacre established himself as the leading novice chaser in Timeform's history, another long-standing ratings benchmark was surpassed.

The thoroughly likeable veteran, so often third fiddle down the years behind his outstanding stablemates Kauto Star and Denman, finally had his day in the limelight at and, in collaring Kim Muir winner Sunnyhillboy on the line, ran to a rating of 166, edging ahead of the likes of famous recent winners Don't Push It (162) and Royal Athlete (161) in Timeform lists in the process.

Timeform's Jumps Editor Dan Barber, said: "There aren't many horses in training that have deserved a big one as much as Neptune Collonges.

"And the fact he has done it at such an advanced stage of his career speaks volumes for his durability, not to mention his trainer's skill in rekindling the horse's form.

"Clearly it was attained in a unique race, but it's interesting to note that Neptune Collonges' winning performance figure of 166 would have had him bang there in this year's Gold Cup behind the ill-fated Synchronised, who ran to 167 at Cheltenham."

The best performances in the race's history on Timeform ratings, however, have come from the defeated. Another popular grey, Suny Bay, achieved a staggering figure of 176 when finding only Earth Summit too strong under top weight in 1998.

Crisp, courtesy of his famous second to National great Red Rum in 1973, sits second some 8lb behind on a rating of 168.

GRAND NATIONAL - The Northern Challenge

The Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore was the last northern-trained horse to win the Grand National back in 2013 but recent victories for that part of the country have been thin on the ground since the likes of Lucius, Rubstic and Hallo Dandy in the late 70s early 80’s showed that steeplechasing was in a healthy state north of the Watford Gap with the likes of Gordon W Richards, Denys Smith, Arthur Stephenson, Peter Easterby and Jimmy Fitzgerald capable of holding their own against their southern and Irish counterparts.