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Message: I think it is unfair to answer the question at all until Northerly is in happy retirement as like Sunline.
At this exact moment in time: Sunline better record. Northerly better horse. The 3 - 0 scoreline was not a fluke. Sunline WAS NOT past her best. Northerly was not "lucky". And the protest should NOT have been upheld.
Author: Kicker Timestamp:- 19/5/2003 11:12:48 AM Subject: Re: Question re Northerly
Message: I could have raised this in the Can sprinters win HOTY thread but I think it is just as relevent here.
Why is it that middle distance/stayers seem to be more highly regarded overall than sprinters or sprinter/milers?
Why is it that a horse that doesn't get warm until it gets beyond 1600m, where there is much less depth in the racing, seems to have the Champion tag placed on it, yet horses that are dominant at less than 1600, where there is far more depth, but can't win beyond have question marks all over them?
Why is a horse that can blow the opposition away up to 1600 any less a Champion than one that can't win until it gets beyond 1600?
Message: Bob, In my view, Northerly could have almost won every first up run, if that was what he was being SET for. His run behind Yell, FOO and IG after conceding so much ground was brilliant. $ However, if he did win first up, he would have paid dearly for it afterwards. $ He can handle 2400 under any conditions. He handled the slow pace of the Caufield Cup and the furious pace of the BMW. Had he had the luxury of focussing on Freemason, instead of being justifiably preo-occupied with staving off late finishers, he could have taken Freemason. $ Sunline lovers, even if Sunline was a superior horse to Norherly, I would back Northerly to beat Sunline over 2000m all the time, for the simple reason that the stalker gets the EASIER run than the leader. The relative ease of the stalker's run is enough to compensate for any moderate margin of inferiority. $ Sunline fans can justifiably claim superiority - on lifetime achievement ONLY.
Message: Shark, I agree with what you are saying generally, except that I don't accept the point regarding winning lead up races. Why should these be given any less weight. I agree that they shouldn't be regarded too highly with Northerly, and I have stated before that he does seem to have a very narrow distance range. This is not a criticism, just an observation. He is almost invincible 1800-2000, not much chop below 1600, and can get 2400 with the right conditions.
With regard to lead up races though, If Sunline, and Lonhro for that matter didn't chase the glory and dollars of the really big races (Cox Plates over 2040m etc.) and stuck to their pet distances (essentially sprints up to a mile) they would be almost unbeatable.
The fact that both of these two (I don't mean to put Lonhro in the bracket of Sunline because his record clearly doesn't support that, but for the sake of the argument) can stretch themselves out to 2000m and be competitive - even dominate, proves how good the two are.
Northerly is a fantastic horse, but he should not be put higher than Sunline based purely on the fact that he was more comfortable over 2000m. If Sunline never raced over 2000m, her record would almost be unblemished.
Message: Gary, great point but i doubt many here will listen to it.
I believe old comrad only met northerly once over 2000m at wfa. old comrad won, does that make him the better horse? obviously not.
Thats why we have ratings, to compare horses in races they will compete in against each other, and races that they hypothetically could have raced each other.
Peak rating have Northerly and Sunline equal in ability, with the mares allowance however, AT THEIR ABSOLUTE PEAK she would have beaten him in a hypothetical race. He may go on to record a higher peak rating in the remaining part of his career and if he does I will be only too glad to say his peak performance was better than her's.
Message: A rational answer, that's what I wanted to see Shark. In regards to the lead-up races you mention, this is one of the things that I think made Sunline. She could win all of the races she went in, almost never running a bad race. It can only be a positive for a horse to be able to win lead-up races and she scores marks for it - as should Lonhro. As you are not knocking Sunline, I am not knocking Northerly when I say that she has the better record (of course he isn't finished). I think that it is the overall record of a horse that we remember most about horses and therefore consider her to be better. At their peaks I'd say they are equal in ability.
It's good to be able to have a discussion in here without abusive comments hurled at everyone, more like this site used to be.
Message: Shark, an EXTREME hypothetical scenario here. $ Two horses - one is called Westerly and the other is called Moonline. They are both the same age, love the same distances etc. $ 1. Westerley registers 3 wins in his 50 start career. 2. Sunline registers 47 wins in her 50 start career. 3. They only met 3 times and each time Westerley beat Moonline - hence his three wins. 4. In all OTHER 47 races they both met similar horses; Moonline won them ALL, whereas Westerly won NONE. $ But, whenever they met head to head, the feature of Moonline's pattern of racing which made her unstoppable, was the feature that Westerly most enjoyed and allowed him to show his absolute best and win. $ My broad question is: Which is the superior horse?
Message: ****NOT A SUNLINE KNOCK - SHE IS A CHAMP****
Sunline obviously has a better record than Northerly.
The difference between the two is that aside from one being a sprinter-miler and the other a middle distancer, is that usually Sunline was able to clean sweep lead ups in which the race seems put on for her (I'm not knocking her here).
Much the same as Lonhro was the benificiary of the style of these lead ups in which his superior turn of foot landed him the prizes, Sunline was able to race unfit stayers (Tie The Knot especially) in races where the pressure required for these horses to be a chance, was often not applied to her in front. Often, it was left to average or worse (certaintly not top line) sprinters to run the places in these races where the tempo benefited them and not the ones behind (ie Honour The Name, Umrum over 1200, Celestial Choir(I think) etc etc).
On the flipside, Northerly aint no good first up, can be said to be worse second up, and needs things his way to win at less than 1600 which means at least half of his lead up foundation runs aren't won by him. I think this will explain the strike rate differences, but the great feature of both horses is that both win the Grand Finals (unlike some 'latter day champ' who shall remain nameless). Northerly's defeat in the BMW was only his 2nd defeat in a 'Grand Final', with his other being the Old Comrade Oz Cup.
So in answer to a), Northerly doesn't have the strike rate, ie overall record in terms of runs to wins, of the mare, since it is conceivable he can only win half his lead ups (1600+), whereas she can win them all (barring meeting Northerly). So the mare is superior in this instance.
However in answer to b), I would have to say that I think Northerly to be the better horse. Sunline was able to exploit her fondness for the Valley and wet tracks to win her Cox's, and she was aided by circumstance in that no genuine threat to her raced close enough to apply pressure when it counted (schoolish region). No real threat existed in the Northerly or Viscount vein that could apply a bit of heat to the mare at the right time. In both her Plate's, her main rivals (Tie The Knot, Sky Heights, Shogun Lodge etc etc) raced way back in the field, meaning the mare had free rein up front to career away pressureless and establish a winning break before the turn.
To me 2000m definitely wasn't her best trip, and she needed these circumstances to win at this distance. I know she won by 7L in one of them, but you get my point. The presence of quality rivals (Northerly & Viscount) breathing down her neck at the right time in the last two meant she was challenged and going backwards come the post.
Based on these facts you would have to say Northerly to be the better horse since you;
a) definitely couldn't see him being beaten by the mare over 2000 based on what we've seen, and b) its debatable over 1600m, although at WFA you'd have to lean to Northerly based on Feehan.
Sunline would beat him most days of the week in races less than 1600, but is that what defines greatness? Do the accolades go to the horse who wins the lead ups, and if they do are they deserved. I don't think they are.
****NOT A SUNLINE KNOCK - SHE IS A CHAMP, BUT HE IS BETTER*****
Message: A good question Sunline. I wouldnt class myself a 'groupie' but I am a big fan of Northerly's.
Nevertheless I would have to say that Sunline's race record on paper is better than Northerly's. Anyone who disagrees is kidding themselves. She was far more consistent and has won plenty more races.
However, head to head, I am of the opinion that Northerly would have Sunline's measure, as he did in their three meetings. I dont know if its because his racing pattern is suited to Sunline-i.e. he is a 'stalker'. He can sit off a fast pace and maintain high speeds for a long distance-or if perhaps his best is just better than Sunline's. One thing that has always irked me though. Its people who say when Northerly beat her she wasnt at her peak. Apparently she was past it spring 2001, then 'back to her best' in the autumn 2002 when she brilliantly won the Donc. Then she was past it again last spring. This is just too convenient for me and takes the shine off some great races. Just my opinion.
Message: Sunline, Far too much time on this forum is spent on this question. Sunline and Northerly are different horses (Sunline 1200 - 2000, Northerly 1600 - 2400).
As more of a sprinter type, Sunline came to hand much more quickly than Northerly and so naturally has a better strike rate.
I think that if Northerly and Sunline had have met 10 times in their careers at WFA over varying conditions from 1600 to 2000, the scoreline would have been either 5-5 or 6-4 to Northerly, simply because his racing style meant that his jockey would have had more options during a race.
I love both horses though, like most in this forum. I am not bagging Sunline or her followers because she was a great racehorse.
Her 2nd Cox Plate win and her final Doncaster win were amongst my fondest racing memories in recent years, yet somehow over the last 50 metres, more often than not, I think that Northerly would just pack a little bit too much for her.
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