Sunline was a champion New Zealand thoroughbred that scorched the turf in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
Hailing from South Auckland, Sunline wasn’t an attractive type when she first went to the races, but she quickly put any doubts to bed after stringing eight consecutive victories.
International wins and performances headlined her career and although her life was cut short due to illness, her legacy remains.
The daughter of Desert Sun started her career with four straight wins in New Zealand before running in the Group 3 Furious Stakes at Randwick. She scored easily and we then go on to win the Tea Rose Stakes and the Group 1 Flight Stakes.
It would be the first of 13 Group 1’s scored by the New Zealand champion. She tasted her first defeat in the Angus Armanasco Stakes before winning her first of two Doncaster Handicaps in 1999.
Her ultimate target was the Cox Plate and it was also one of her highlight wins. She scored over a quality field, which included Tie The Knot.
The very next year, she would win her second Cox Plate in one of the most one-sided Cox Plates of all time. She scored with ease as she kicked away before the home turn.
Two months later, Sunline lined up in the Hong Kong Mile. In what was her most exciting win of her career, Sunline held off Hong Kong champion Fairy King Prawn in the shadows of the post.
Her legacy as a world-beating thoroughbred was set and she went on to win eight more races in Australia and New Zealand.
She finished her career with 32 wins and 12 placings from 48 starts. At the time of her retirement, she was the highest-grossing thoroughbred in Australian history.
Sunline won A$11,351,607 from her 32 wins and she has a Group 1-winning strike rate of 52%.
The people behind Sunline
Sunline was trained by father and son duo Trevor and Stephen McKee. Based in Takanini, the partnership teamed up with Helen Lusty and Thayne Green in the ownership.
Green was a successful greyhound trainer and administrator, who was friends with Trevor McKee.
Strapper Claire Bird was a big storyline throughout the career of Sunline. She endured many injuries at the hands of the mare and continued in racing following Sunline’s retirement.
Despite having a few jockeys throughout her career, Greg Childs was her go-to rider. The former Kiwi took over from Jimmy Cassidy early on and never looked back.
What Sunline did for racing
Sunline had a massive following on either side of the Tasman. She was one of the first horses to have fan gear available for purchase.
Although most of her racing was done in Australia, the impact she had on racing in New Zealand was substantial.
She’s buried at Ellerslie in Auckland, where a memorial statue was erected in her honour.
The Group 2 Sunline Stakes runs at Moonee Valley in the spring and the Sunline Vase runs at Ellerslie in March.
Sunline’s Achievements and Statistics
Sunline was the only horse to be inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame while still racing.
She won the New Zealand Horse of the Year from 1999-2002 and the Australian Horse of the Year in 2000,2001, and 2002.
Sunline ended her career with a timeform rating of 129 and won numerous awards throughout her career on both sides of the Tasman.
Race record: 32 wins from 48 starts
Career earnings: $11,351,607
Group 1 wins: 13
Timeform rating: 129
Breeding: Desert Sun x. Songline
Trainer: Trevor and Stephen McKee
Jockey: Greg Childs
Breeders: Susan Archer and Michael Martin
Owners: Trevor McKee, Thayne Green, Helen Lusty
Silks: Blue, yellow and red
Years active: 1998-2002