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08/04/02 Sunline Must Race On to The Cox Plate
Although a decision is yet to be made, Sunline must run in this year’s Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

After her runaway six and a half length win in Saturday’s All-Aged Stakes at Randwick she left little doubt her form was as good as ever.

In giving the mare another tilt at the Cox Plate trainer Trevor McKee might also be helping the racing fraternity decide just how good this wonder mare from across the Tasman really is.

Debate is continuing to rage whether Sunline is the best mare ever to race in Australasia, whether she is as good as Kingston Town, and even if she ranks in the top three gallopers we’ve ever seen grace our turf, ever.

Although her six and a half length win was somewhat spine tingling the champion hare HAD to win. Could you imagine the negative press she would have received had she not got to the line first in the All-Aged.

There are those out there now who are just hanging for the moment when the famous mare falters - if she ever will, to demand her retirement from racing’s most elite level.

They say in racing there is never such a thing as a certainty. But on Saturday there was one - aside from tragedy (and thank goodness that didn’t happen) Sunline’s name was etched on the trophy well before the time the field jumped away late in the afternoon. There was no way she could be beaten. Even though she didn’t have much peace up at the head of the field with the speedy Mowerman cutting loose early, Greg Childs judged the situation perfectly and kept to mare in cruise mode before asking for her to accelerate at the top of the home straight.

On Saturday Sunline ran a faster time than she did in narrowly downing Shogun Lodge in the Doncaster Handicap seven days earlier at the same circuit.

For mine there’s little doubt Sunline is racing as good as ever. Sure she probably isn’t quite as brilliant as the day she slaughtered the field on her way to a second Cox Plate, but don’t forget everything is meant to slow down and slowly deteriorate when it gets a bit older.

These days it just appears Sunline is like a classic racing car. With a quick oil change and a capable driver she just cruises and when the accelerator is reached for she finds. And usually Trevor McKee has the ideal amount of petrol in the daughter of Desert Sun.

Melbourne racing fans are desperate to have Sunline race at the tracks again this spring. And why wouldn’t they head in that direction.

Her owners, McKee, Thayne Green and Helen Lusty have no breeding ambitions and they have already said they will sell the mare when her racing days are over. So why not race on?

Some may think if Sunline does race on and she is beaten some of her amazing glow and gloss may be lost. But hey what the heck - the gloss isn’t needed for her breeding career as Lusty, Green and McKee aren’t the least bit worried about her breeding days. Sure they would like to see her have every chance and produce a champion - but a few more starts won’t change a lot. Sure she would miss the 2002 breeding season, but then she will have the opportunity to properly let down before she visits one of the world’s leading stallions. Plus there is every chance she could head for a northern hemisphere career at stud - two of the leading buyers at last week’s yearling sales Darley and Coolmore have both famed establishments above the equator. If that is the case then she could quite happily run in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in 2002 as her swansong to what has been an incredible career.

But while the connections of Sunline have always said their intention was not to breed with mare that fact has not been totally ruled out. Trevor MeKee owns 50 per cent of the mare while the remaining quarters are shared shared Lusty and Green.

So let’s hope the mighty mare does run again. I for one will be an interested onlooker on THAT Saturday in October when she sets up what is shaping as a mighty clash with the likes of established stars Northerly and Old Comrade and others who are likely to graduate to become stars over the next few months.

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