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30/03/02 Queen Sunline Does it Again in Donny
sunlinehead.jpg (11667 bytes)The queen of Australasian racing Sunline added yet another Group One race and created history when she hung on for a thrilling win in this afternoon’s $2.5 million San Miguel Doncaster Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick.

The daughter of Desert Sun started with her customary pace and went to the front with fellow Group One winner Ha Ha. The champion then had to stave off the challenge issued by the outstanding performer Shogun Lodge before etching her name into the history books.

Whether she was pitch forked into the race by the handicapper or not, Sunline became the first mare in history to score multiple wins in the rich mile feature.

Connections of the mighty mare were overjoyed in their celebrations and the moment when part owner Thayne Green embraced the mare’s famous track rider and strapper Clare Bird and lifted her into the air will leave a lasting memory on anyone who was either at Royal Randwick or was watching coverage from Australia’s richest race day.

The huge crowd, which in a rare result for the Harbour City was in excess of 40,000, came to cheer on the dual Cox Plate winner in today’s big race and they weren’t disappointed. They and the connections of Sunline must have been a touch worried when it looked as though Bob Thomsen’s tough gelding Shogun Lodge was going to cause an upset.

Even since the New South Wales TRB’s handicapper Mark Webbey released the weights for the race early in February the race and Sunline’s weight was never far from the headlines.

sunlinewins.jpg (18359 bytes)All of her rivals and other connections who had nominated in the race looked in disbelief when the eyed the list of horse names and weights they would be asked to carry in the handicap event.

Terms like "pitch forked", "weighted certainty" and "extremely well treated" were coming thick and fast and from being Webbey who – Mark Webbey soon became a household name.

But perhaps Mr Webbey may have got it right. Well the weights of Sunline and Shogun Lodge anyway. When those two gallopers hit the line little more than a tote ticket separated them.

Speculation continues as to whether the Doncaster is going to be the grand mare’s last run. Co-trainers Trevor and Steve McKee haven’t ruled out another tilt at the Cox Plate in the Spring, but perhaps with the risk of tarnishing a near faultless record they will decide the time is right to bring the curtain down on one of the region’s best gallopers.

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Sunline may have been the best mare ever to grace Australian racetracks and I just hope you enjoyed it, we are sure not to see another for a long., long time.

And if she does race on let’s hope the butch mare continues to thrill racegoers and attract thousands of extra spectators to wherever she goes. Connections have hinted she may even back up next Saturday in the Group One All Aged Stakes in Sydney before a chance in Hong Kong or the Cox Plate.

And who’s going to end up with the mare? Well many are speculating she could be sold to United Arab Emirates locals, but whoever does manage to snare the prized mare is sure to give her every chance of turning her into a great broodmare of the future. She’s been given every chance on the track and come through with flying colours and I’m sure with the right opportunity she can do likewise in the barn.

If today’s was your last run Sunline, then thanks for the memories. You are the best galloper I’ve seen race and who will ever forget that sensational second Cox Plate victory at Moonee Valley – I certainly won’t!

PICS - Jenny Barnes.

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