The Evening Standard's Clare Balding shared the racing journalist of the year prize at the 2003 Derby Awards with regional journalist Doug Moscrop of the Newcastle Journal.
British Racing Continues On The Up
Star Newcastle colt Choisir has shared top honours among older horses in the sprinting category in the year-end International Classifications following his historic wins at Royal Ascot last year.
The Paul Perry-trained four-year-old, sold for an estimated $20 million to global breeding giant Coolmore Stud following his stunning English victories, was the top Australian-trained horse in the ratings.
The ratings, compiled by a panel of handicappers from Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, United States, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia, are determined solely by a horse's best annual performance.
Choisir, with a rating of 121, shared the top older-sprinter honour with Hong Kong International Sprint winner Silent Witness, which was bred in Australia, and US speedsters Congaree and Aldebaran.
Oasis Dream, the three-year-old that defeated Choisir in the group 1 July Cup at Newmarket, was ranked the best overall sprinter on 125.
"It's a tremendous recognition for the horse," Perry said. "I wasn't even aware of the classifications, to be honest, but it's a pleasant surprise. I'm sure Coolmore are even more pleased."
Choisir joined retired champion Sunline as the only Australasian horses in the past decade to have topped a category in the classifications.
Sunline was crowned top older female in the 2000 international classifications following her stirring wins in the Cox Plate and Hong Kong International Mile.
"It is great to see Choisir's history-making performances gain the international recognition they deserve," Racing NSW chief handicapper Mark Webbey said.
"Because of the isolation factor and the lack of international competition here, it is hard for horses to be recognised unless they have competed successfully on the world stage. Choisir and Sunline have shown that horses from this part of the world can be a force in the international arena."
The John Hawkes-trained Lonhro, which won five group 1 races last year, was the next best-rated Australian galloper, on 120, ahead of Cox Plate winner Fields Of Omagh (116), followed by Northerly, Defier, Clangalang and Bel Esprit on 115.
Irish miler Hawk Wing, prepared by Aidan O'Brien, registered the top rating performance (133) of 2003 with its 11-length romp in the group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May.
By comparison ratings for recent champions were: Rock Of Gibraltar (2002, rating 128), Sakhee (2001, 133), Dubai Millennium (2000, 134) and Daylami and Montjeu (1999, 135).
Hawk Wing, which was retired after suffering a knee injury when sixth in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, rated one point ahead of Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe-winning three-year-old Dalakhani.
King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes winner Alamshar came in next on 131, followed by the Marcus Tregoning-trained Arc runner-up Mubtaker (130).
Despite winning five group 1 races around the world last year, the Luca Cumani-trained Falbrav could manage only a rating of 127.
The Dermot Weld-trained Vinnie Roe, which won a third successive Irish St Leger last year, was rated the best stayer alongside Bollin Eric and Ascot Gold Cup winner Mr Dinos.
The Sydney Morning Herald
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