Which horse is, or was, the highest-rated Champion Hurdler of the Timeform era?
As far as the ‘Timeform era’ is concerned, it is important to note that Timeform ratings – which express, in Imperial pounds, the calibre, or merit, of each horse – were not published for National Hunt racing until the early Sixties. Consequently, the Timeform era does not include luminaries of the post-war years, such as National Spirit, Hatton’s Grace and Sir Ken, who collectively won the Champion Hurdle eight times between 1947 and 1954.
However, as Japanese writer Haruki Marukmai once said, ‘Everybody has to start somewhere’ and, as it stands, Night Nurse, who recorded back-to-back victories in the Champion Hurdle in 1976 and 1977, is the highest-rated hurdler of the Timeform era, with a Timeform Annual Rating of 182. Indeed, the 1977 renewal of the Champion Hurdle is often acclaimed as the best ever run and Monksfield, who finished second on that occasion before winning in 1978 and 1979, is the joint-second highest-rated hurdler of the Timeform era. His Timeform Annual Rating, of 180, places him alongside Istabraq, who won the Champion Hurdle three years running, in 1998, 1999 and 2000.