Super mare Sunline to retire after QEII Cup
New Zealand's queen of the turf, Sunline, could make her final racecourse appearance in the Group One Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on April 21. The Hong Kong Jockey Club's director, racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, in Auckland for the Karaka yearling sales, said yesterday the indications from trainer Trevor McKee were encouraging.
'I spoke to Trevor on Tuesday about the possibility of running Sunline and, although of course nothing is yet decided this far from the race, he is keen on the idea,' said Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'I think he has been encouraged by the increased standing of the race since its inclusion in the World Series and of course we would be absolutely delighted to see Sunline bow out at Sha Tin, where she enjoyed one of her many career highlights in the Hong Kong Mile.'
McKee's son and co-trainer, Steve, said yesterday that the QE II Cup was one of a number of options being considered for Sunline, who has not raced since her narrow defeat by Northerly as she attempted to win her third successive WS Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.
'We will just have to see how she is performing when the time comes, but the QE II Cup is definitely in the pipeline,' McKee said. 'Obviously the first thing for us is to see that Sunline comes up for another campaign. In what she is doing at home, she certainly seems keen enough to still be doing it all but we have to see how she races. She will have her first run back in a Group One at Te Rapa on February 9 over 1,400 metres and then we will head across to Sydney.'
The McKees have myriad options with the mare in Sydney, including the Coolmore Classic on March 9 or George Ryder Stakes on March 16 during the Golden Slipper carnival at Rosehill Gardens before making the trip to Hong Kong.
Six-year-old Sunline, winner of 28 of her 41 starts and the greatest stakes winner in the history of racing in Australia and New Zealand with $35.3 million, will be retired before the next Australasian breeding season late this year.
She has been to Sha Tin twice - for a seventh in the Hong Kong Cup of 1999 then a memorable victory over Fairy King Prawn in the 2000 Hong Kong Mile.