Sunline shines amid stars at Te Rapa

Seasoned racegoers were moved to tears after current Australian and New Zealand Horse of the Year Sunline (6m Desert Sun-Songline; bred by Susan Archer & Michael Martin) defeated a high-class field by four-and-a-half lengths in the Waikato Draught Sprint 1400m G1 at Te Rapa on Saturday.

It was her 28th win from 41 starts, and her tenth Group One victory in a career distinguished as much by the great mare's astonishing soundness and unrelenting competitiveness as by her unquestioned class.
Spring Rain and Honor Bound fought on bravely but in vain behind her, with Vinaka making ground after being hampered at the start by Spring Rain. An inquiry into that incident resulted in Honor Bound and Vinaka being placed second and third ahead of a relegated Spring Rain.

Sunline, who appears if anything to be stronger than ever, returned to an ecstatic crowd reception and a spontaneous rendition of "Simply the Best." It would be difficult to find anyone at Te Rapa on Saturday who would now admit to believing otherwise!

Australian-bred mare Emerald Dream (5m Danehill-Theme Song; bred by Indian Pacific Bloodstock, PG Talty & MP Talty, NSW) completed a remarkable four-month transition from intermediate class to Group One winner when she took out the Whakanui Stud International Stakes 2000m G1. She defeated 2000 New Zealand Derby winner Hail and the fine mare Durzetta.

Vapour Trail (3f Jetball-Devil's Lair; bred by Peter & Philip Vela) tightened her grip on the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year title when she held off a determined Blackrock College in the Sir Tristram Fillies Classic 2000m G2. Venus Was Her Name was third, two-and-a-half lengths away. Vapour Trail who didn't contest any of the first five races in the series, now has 32 points from her wins in the Eight Carat Classic, New Zealand Oaks and Sir Tristram Classic.
Blackrock College is second with 26 points - which means either filly could win the Filly of the Year title, depending on the outcome of the final race in the series. That race is the Grosvenor Championship S. 2100m G2 at Ellerslie on 2 March. The winner earns eight points, with four points for second and two points for third.

- Susan Archer


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