Revised system to provide for more equitable ratings The racing handicappers of the world converged on Hong Kong during international week and remained in Asia's World City for a further five days, thrashing out the relative merits of the best horses on the planet for what is now called the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings. This new-look version of the old International Classifications promises to be the most enlightened and legitimate document yet attempted, with Hong Kong handicapper Ciaran Kennelly helping to push along the pace of reform in his role as co-chairman of the world body. This column was delighted to learn that two of the thorny issues of international ratings were addressed last week. Firstly, that the top Southern Hemisphere horses are too lowly rated and those from the Northern Hemisphere - in particular the European sprinters - are often rated too highly. Hong Kong is in a perfect position to judge the respective merits of north versus south because nowhere else in the world do so many private purchases from both regions mix and mingle in the same, measurable, competitive environment. We have watched, over the years, horses come from England with a maiden win, and a distant Group race placing to their credit, but arrive in Hong Kong rated on the verge of the top class. But a filly like Elegant Fashion, with Group Two wins and a second in the Group One AJC Australian Oaks to her credit, arrived in Hong Kong off a rating of 95. And the idea that Australian sprinter Choisir improved by a stone while on the flight to England before mopping them up last year is laughable. He was just a ringing endorsement for the theory that the Australian ratings are too low and the English ones too high. Choisir - along with American-sourced Prix de l'Abbaye hero Var and the gaggle of horses who are flogged in the Hong Kong Sprint each year - have collectively proved that quality English sprinters are mythical creatures, often discussed by the common folk, but that may not actually exist. Kennelly and the Jockey Club's executive director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, have not only recognised these problems of international alignment but have acted to rectify them. By facilitating and supporting the meeting of the handicappers and widening the representation to ensure all major racing countries are included, the anomalies of international ratings will soon become fewer and less glaring. For the past few years, one of the by-products of having the handicappers in town for the International Races has been the Friday press conference in which the wise men from around the world give their tips for the four Group Ones. This year, Japanese handicapper Dr Isamu Kosa stole the show with some forthright opinions which made great headlines. And his prediction that Japan's flying machine Calstone Light O would collapse under the pressure of a full-on Silent Witness assault proved to be one of the most enlightened and astute views of the week. Some of the other handicappers could take a leaf out of the good doctor's book. Like the handicapper who tipped The Tatling to beat Silent Witness because he 'had a feeling in his water'. Or the one who, after tipping to the punters, admitted he hadn't seen a single video of any of the Hong Kong lead-up races - despite the fact they are free and available on the Jockey Club website - and therefore his opinion was probably not worth anything. Indeed. Chairman Kennelly, who is as hard working and passionate about international racing as anyone, should give the visiting handicappers a reminder of their responsibilities before next year. And that if they are going to accept Hong Kong's hospitality for more than a week, and accept the task of tipping horses to the Hong Kong betting public, the very least we are entitled to expect is that they've done their homework.