Sunline Champion Mare
Sunline All Time Greats Of Australian Horse Racing History
The bay mare compares quite favourably with those that came before her and for those that came after.
Sunline did not retire undefeated as is the case with one recent fine filly, Black Caviar, but she made nearly twice as many starts, winning fully two thirds of those, with 9 seconds and three thirds thrown into the bargain.
Any comparison betwixt those two must factor this into the account. sunline
It should also be noted that Sunline had few equals when it came to Group 1 wins.
Black Caviar bested her mark by two, other than that, only Kingston Town and early American racer John Henry are above her.
New Zealand And Sunline
There must be something in the air or water; perhaps it is the grass, but for whatever reason, Sunline is another fine example of the thoroughbreds that have got their start in New Zealand and went on to blaze the turf in Australia.
Sunline was foaled in September 1995 on New Zealand’s North island. Given her pedigree, which has often proved to be unreliable in the case of some of the most notable champions, it would seem that Sunline was destined for greatness.
Her sire was Desert Sun, although not a great racer in either the U. S. or Great Britain was a descendant of U.S. Danzig and Canadian Northern Dancer, with lines going back further to the great Canadian Nearctic. Northern Dancer was also represented on his dam’s side, along with ties to Nijinsky.
He also was damsire to Black Caviar. Sunline’s dam was Songline, a respectable performer in her own right, also with ties to Northern Dancer, as well as Bold Ruler and Hyperion, two notable Northern Hemisphere thoroughbreds.
Sunline Loved Middle Distance Races
As a racer, Sunline was at her best in middle length events. She seemed particularly adept at 1400 m. She did not win under 1200 m and only her two W.S. Cox Plates found her successful beyond 2000 m.
She was immediately successful as a two-year-old. She won her first four in her native land commencing in May of 1998. She went over to Australia and won her next three starts, notching a victory in the Flight Stakes at Randwick for her first Group 1 win.
Her connections then spelled her, seemingly to her disadvantage. She ran third in a Group 3 race, but immediately returned to form with a win in the Doncaster Handicap. She then ran unplaced for the first time, due either to fatigue or inexperience at 2000 m, but it resulted in another layoff for her.
This time, the rest served her well. Her first race was a victory in the Warwick Stakes, followed by two close seconds and a fourth place finish. Her next outing was in tandem with jockey Greg Childs, where the team rode to the win in the 1999 W.S. Cox Plate, this time the 2040 m of Moonee Valley racecourse posing no barrier. This combination then went on to supply another 10 Group 1 victories.
Four of those came in 2000, the Coolmore Classic, All Aged Stakes, a second W.S. Cox Plate and the Hong Kong Mile. Most fans would have deemed it highly unlikely that there was anything left in her, but as it turned out, she was far from done.
Sunline Misses The Cox Plate Thanks To Northerly
She very nearly produced the second all-time trifecta in the Cox Plate; it required no less a competitor than Northerly to deny her. Had she won, she would have joined the rare company of Kingston Town to tie that champion in both Group 1 and Cox Plate wins. For any who enjoy statistics, Sunline’s time in her 1999 victory would have beaten Kingston Town in any of his Cox Plate wins.
The following season was equally spectacular. She won the Waikato Sprint for a second time; another Coolmore Classic fell to her, as did another All Aged Stakes and Doncaster Handicap.
Another spell ensued, followed by a return to win the Mudgway Stakes in her native land. Then, she very nearly added a Caulfield Cup to her tally, losing only when she surrendered a three length lead to the mighty Lonrho that needed a record setting performance to best her.
At that point, it seemed that Sunline’s best day were finally behind her. After one final appearance in the Cox Plate where she could do no better than fourth, her planned retirement was announced.
She did not enjoy productivity as a broodmare. She produced four foals, with nothing but some minor wins and unraced fillies to show for her efforts in that realm. She had to be euthanized in May of 2009 after efforts to rescue her from a serious case of hoof disease were unsuccessful.
She rightly received numerous accolades for her performance on the turf.
She was inducted into the New Zealand and Australian Racing Halls of Fame in 2006. She holds the record for Horse of the Year awards, four from New Zealand and three from Australia.
Her six year racing career had her as the hands down favourite of the racing public, and the Australia Post thought her worthy of a commemorative stamp. She also was recognized with two Middle Distance Horse of the Year awards.