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Sunline - Profile of a Champion
In winning the race Sunline took the title of Australia’s leading stakeswinning mare and moved to 9th on the all time stakeswinning list. It was then announced that Sunline would travel to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Hong Kong International Cup over 2000m.
She was freshened and entered in the Group 2 Breeders Stakes over 1400m in late November 1999. As the short priced favourite Sunline cruised home leading all the way in the WFA event to win by four lengths from Soap Opera with Pace Invader third.
In Hong Kong Sunline jumped from a wide gate to the front. She leading on straightening but was soon challenged by Oriental Express but it was champion traveller Jim and Tonic who stormed home to win from Running Stag with Lear Spear third as Sunline tired to finished 7th in possible the worst run of her career. Many suggestions to her lacklustre effort included being on heat, the long preparation, the travelling and perhaps she didn’t quite stay the 2000m. Sunline went home for a short spell.
Three months later Sunline was back in Sydney to resume in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes over 1400m at Warwick Farm. Faced with a heavy track first up Sunline was sent out as favourite. Around the turn Sunline led from Adam then Al Mansour, Mr Innocent and Staging out wider with Hire running on in the centre. Inside the final 100m Sunline was in front as Adam raised another effort to charge at the mare with Mr Innocent and Hire near the rails from Tie The Knot. In the final 50m Sunline was holding the opposition winning by a length from Adam with Hire a close third.
Three weeks later Sunline lined up with 60kg in the Coolmore Classic Australia’s only Group 1 race for mares and was trying to emulate Emancipation as winner of the Apollo Stakes – Coolmore double.
Beat the Fade led early but Sunline soon took over on settling with Stella Maree next. By the 1000m Camerena had hit the front from Sunline then Beat the Fade, Flickering Fire and One Under followed by Staging. Around the turn Sunline took over from Camerena as Beat the Fade tried to chase near the rails with a gap to the bulk of the field. In the final 100m Sunline came away under the huge weight to win by nearly 1 ˝ lengths from Beat the Fade with Noircir third.
Her next assignment was the AJC Doncaster Handicap with 57.5kg on a 49.5kg limit and if she were able to win it would be the biggest weight since Cuddle in 1936. Sunline was not penalised for her Coolmore win and was up 5 ˝ kg on the 52kg she had carried to victory 12 months earlier.
Despite the loss Sunline lost no admirers and plans were already in action for a rematch a week later at weight for age in the All Aged Stakes.
In the All Aged Stakes Sunline started at 4/7 favourite in the eight horse field. Sunline led early with Georgie Boy but soon the latter led clearly from Sunline and Over followed by Final Fantasy, Brave Prince and Slavonic. On straightening Sunline joined and headed Georgie Boy with Over wide as Intergaze ran on. By the 200m Sunline race away from Georgie Boy then Over as the rest struggled to make any ground. In the run to the line Sunline cruised away under hands and heels to win by 5 lengths from Georgie Boy with another 1 ˝ lengths to Over in third and a gap to Zatella fourth.
Three days later Sunline was heading back to New Zealand and a spell as her connections considered a campaign in the United States.
It was decided that she would remain in Australasia and attempt a second Cox Plate before another attempt at Hong Kong. Sunline was named Australian Horse Of The Year, Champion Mare, Champion Middle Distance Stayer and was the first mare to take the honour since Let’s Elope in 1992. Sunline was also the first New Zealand trained galloper to win the award since Veandercross in 1993. She was also named New Zealand Horse of the Year for the second year running.
Instead of starting her spring campaign in Sydney as in 1999 Sunline began her preparation in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes over 1200m looking to follow in the footsteps of Strawberry Road and Rubiton who took all before them in 1983 and 1987 spring respectively.
Two weeks later as the 2/11 favourite Sunline lined up in the Group 2 Memsie Stakes taking on a field of 16 on a slow track at Caulfield. On settling Sunline led Umrum, Sir Boom and Rancho Sprak then a gap to Full of Rhythm then Maguire and Oliver Twist. By the 800m Sunline was in front from Rancho Spark and Umrum then Sir Boom and a gap to Maguire and Inaflury. On straightening Umrum gave chase but Sunline had her rivals beaten cruising past the post untroubled to win by 1 ˝ lengths to Umrum with Oliver Twist running on for third.
Another fortnight later Sunline headed back to Moonee
Valley for the Group 2 Feehan Stakes over 1600m. Sunline soon settled in
front from Consular and Sir Boom then Maguire followed by Blue Murder,
Second Coming and Le Zagaletta. Little changed to the turn where Sunline
kicked well clear of Consular then Le Zagaletta and Citra’s Prince. On
straightening Sunline was a mile in front of Le Zagaletta chasing hard from
Citra’s Prince then Consular heading the rest. In the run to the line
Sunline cruised home under a hold to win by 3 ˝ lengths from Le Zagaletta
with another 3 ˝ lengths to Citra’s Prince third ahead of The Hind. In
winning the Feehan Stakes Sunline passed the $5 million in stakes and it was
her 20th win in 27 starts
AJC Derby winner Fairway went on to run as favourite in the Caulfield Cup but after a torrid run was third to Diatribe with Kaapstad Way between them in second place. Fairway later suffered a bad tendon injury which ultimately ended his career. After that victory Diatribe headed to a rematch with Sunline in the WS Cox Plate.
The night before the WS Cox Plate Sunline featured in a report on the 7.30 Report a current affairs show on the ABC such was her popularity with the general public. On raceday she was applauded from her raceday stall to the mounting yard as runners assembled for the race.
Skoozi Please settled in front from The Message then Sunline kept out 3 wide around Fubu and Testa Rossa then Show a Heart, Referral and Tie The Knot followed by Sky Heights around Diatribe and Beat The Fade with Shogun Lodge at the tail. By the 1600m The Message led Sunline then Skoozi Please followed by Fubu and Testa Rossa with Sky Heights next but wide. By the 800m Sunline joined and headed The Message then a break to Skoozi Please with a further gap to Fubu and Sky Heights with Testa Rossa between them. To the 600m Sunline ambled clear of The Message with Skoozi Please making a run from Testa Rossa as the rest struggled to catch up. Turning for home Sunline was ridden out hands and heels and put a huge break on the field headed by Skoozi Please then Testa Rossa and Diatribe with Referral making ground. In the run to the line Sunline cruised home in one of the most dominating Group 1 victories of the modern era winning by seven lengths eased up from Diatribe and Referral then another gap to Oliver Twist, Skoozi Please and Testa Rossa with yet another space to the next group headed by The Message and Fubu then Tie The Knot.
Again she was freshened and again lined up in the Group 2 Breeders Stakes which this year featured the Group 1 winners Shes Country, Tall Poppy, Giovana and Super Sequel. Again she led and cruised away in the straight when asked for an effort. She passed the post in a hand canter 3 ˝ lengths ahead of Amnesia with Soap Opera third. After the race however the stewards gave Greg Childs a moment of panic when asked to return to the weigh in. It was soon explained that the photographers just wanted more photos and that everything was fine with correct weight.
As they jumped Sunline settled in front of Charming City but soon Adam moved up to second. By the 1200m Sunline led Adam then New Trumps followed by Billion Win and Charming City from Sugarfoot with Testa Rossa and Fairy King Prawn well back. Passing the 600m Sunline led with ears pricked from Adam and New Trumps then Charming City with Native Desert running on and Fairy King Prawn starting to charge from the rear. In the straight Sunline raced clear from Adam as Fairy King Prawn hit top speed. Sunline was well clear by the 200m but Fairy King Prawn was issuing a strong challenge. Inside the final 100m Fairy King Prawn was catching Sunline but she started to fight back. Despite a desperate lunge in the final stride from Fairy King Prawn Sunline held on to win by a head with daylight to Adam in third place. After her hard fought victory Sunline returned to Melbourne on December 26 for two weeks quarantine before a short break to prepare for the autumn.