Timeform: Neptune could have won Gold Cup
Neptune Collonges (grey horse) jumping Bechers Brook
(Healy Racing Photos)
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.
Ruby Walsh will return to the saddle at Ayr on Friday - just six days after suffering a horrendous fall from Zarkandar in the Aintree Hurdle on Saturday.