01/12/2004 1:00AM

A few shockers from International Classifications Committee


The International Classification Committee sent shock waves through the racing world on Monday with their announcement in London of Hawk Wing as the world's highest rated horse of 2003.

An 11-length winner of the one-mile Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 17, the Aidan O'Brien-trained son of Woodman received a rating of 133 for that effort. That makes him the champion older horse and best miler in the world as well. Meanwhile, French Derby and Arc winner Dalakhani, most people's idea of racing's world champion, was rated at 132, making him the highest ranking 3-year-old and the highweight in the long distance category.

That Hawk Wing's Lockinge victory came at the expense of five horses who would win just two of their remaining 19 races in 2003 seemed not to enter in to the Committee's calculations. Nor did his subsequent seventh-place finish in the Queen Anne Stakes, his only other start of the year.

The are compiled by a panel of handicappers from Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, the United States, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. Ratings are determined solely by a horse's best annual performance.

At 132, Dalakhani was rated a pound ahead of Irish Derby and King George winner Alamshar. This is a personal triumph for the Aga Khan, who bred and owned both horses.

Oasis Dream came next amongst 3-year-olds at 125. The John Gosden-trained son of Green Desert, winner of the July Cup and the Nunthorpe Stakes, is the highest rated sprinter in the world, three pounds ahead of Congaree, four ahead of Aldebaran, Choisir and Silent Witness, and five ahead of Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat.

Empire Maker and Funny Cide are the highest rated American 3-year-olds at 122, a mark they share with Epsom Derby winner Kris Kin and German Derby winner Dai Jin.

The Committee created another surprise by awarding L'Ancresse the world 3-year-old filly championship at 119 by dint of her second in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Trained like Hawk Wing by Aidan O'Brien, L'Ancresse showed just one listed race win in seven other 2003 starts. The Nick Zito-trained Kentucky Oaks and Acorn Stakes winner Bird Town is the top American 3-year-old filly at 117, where she stands with Prix Jacques le Marois and Breeders' Cup Mile winner Six Perfections, 1000 Guineas and Nassau Stakes winner Russian Rhythm, and French Oaks and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp winner Nebraska Tornado.

Amongst older horses, Arc runner-up Mubtaker trails Dalakhani by three pounds at 130. Three pounds further below at 127 are five-time Group 1 winner Falbrav, and the Breeders' Cup Turf deadheaters High Chaparral and Johar. Also at 127 are Candy Ride and Mineshaft, who thus tie with Johar for the American older horse championship as well as being the world's co-highweighted horses on dirt.

Azeri repeats as the world's top older filly or mare at 123 with Islington and Sightseek three pounds behind at 120. Bollin Eric, Mr Dinos and Vinnie Roe share the stayers title at 119, while the French-trained Westerner, who slammed Mr Dinos in the Prix du Cadran and beat Vinnie Roe in the Prix Royal-Oak, is pegged at 117.

As the Committee's two-year-old ratings include only horses trained in Europe, that division was renamed the European Classification. The undefeated Bago, a son of Nashawan trained in France by Jonathan Pease for the Niarchos Family, is the highweight at 121 as a result of his easy six-length score in the Criterium International. Attraction, also unbeaten, is the leading juvenile filly at 119 through her eight-length romp in the Group 2 Cherry Hinton Stakes in July.