What was the better win; Sunline’s 2002 Doncaster with 58kg over Shogun Lodge and Defier or More Joyous’ 2012 Doncaster win with 57.5kg over Shoot Out and Yosei? Both wins were remarkable performances, and both wins were actually very similar.
In April 2002 Sunline was declining as a champion. However she was still probably the equal best horse in the country with Northerly. But her best was behind her; in fact it was about 1.5 years behind her. But on Easter Saturday 2002 (Doncaster Day) Sunline turned in one of the best performances of her career in winning a second Doncaster Handicap. Here are the cold hard stats…
Only one of Australia’s top-five greatest ever ‘milers’ Super Impose has carried a bigger weight to victory in the Doncaster in the metric era. Super carried 59.5, Sunline carried 58kg.
Two weeks before the Doncaster, Sunline had carried a record 60kg to victory in the Coolmore Classic. This was the second time Sunline carried 60kg to win this race. Only champion Emancipation has carried the same weight in this race. Sunline beat Shogun Lodge (58kg also) and Defier 51.5kg. Both these horses were at the height of their careers. Shogun Lodge and Defier were horses similar to Nothin’ Leica Dane and Hay List in that they were usually only beaten by champions. However, Shogun Lodge did win a George Main Stakes, an Epsom, a Queen Elizebeth, and ran second in a VRC Derby, AJC Derby, and two Doncasters. Defier won a Doomben Cup, a George Main and a Queen Elizabeth and ran second in two Cox Plates. Both these horses were superb animals. They were always competitive. They never ran a bad race. Sunline had to run a super race to beat Shogun Lodge at level weights (mare vs big gelding) and an even better race to beat Defier after conceding him 6.5kg. But she did.
Sunline somehow paid $3.80. In the start before, the Coolmore with 60kg she paid $1.70, and in the start after, the All Age Stakes at Weight for Age she paid $1.35. Punters were obviously worried about the 58kg.
Sunline won in a time of 1.35.2, which is about the average winning time for the Doncaster in the metric era.
The punters definitely got this race right. The favourite beat the second favourite by a nose with the third favourite half a length away in third. What a great win by a champion mare. 58kg is the same weight that Black Caviar carried to victory in her greatest ever victory, the 2011 Newmarket Handicap.
More Joyous 2012
More Joyous was almost scratched from the 2012 Doncaster. The day before the race, the Randwick track was a heavy 10. It is lucky the sun came out on the Saturday because, if it had not, More Joyous would have certainly been scratched due to the state of the track.
Only Sunline (58kg) and Super Impose (59.5kg) have carried a bigger metric weight to victory in the Doncaster than the 57.5kg More Joyous lumped to win in 2012.
More Joyous had won the Group One Queen of the Turf at Weight for Age at her previous start. She jumped at $1.24 and won very easily.
More Joyous beat Shoot Out (56.5kg) and Yosei (52kg). As well as these two multiple Group One winners, the 2012 Doncaster contained 2011 Doncaster winner Rangirangdoo, multiple Group One winners Danleigh and Secret Admirer, Emirates winners Wall Street, Albert The Fat and Happy Trails and Stradbroke winner Sincero. The 2012 Doncaster field was probably marginally better than Sunline’s 2002 Doncaster field.
Because of More Joyous’ weight and doubt about the still wet track, More Joyous started at the exact same odds ($3.80) as Sunline had ten years earlier. Again, it is amazing that a horse this good could start at these odds.
More Joyous won in the time of 1.35.5 which is just over 0.2 of a second slower than Sunline’s winning time.
At her next start, More Joyous beat perhaps the best field of any race in Australia for the racing year 2011 – 2012 in the Queen Elizabeth. This win showed that she should have been at least even money in the Doncaster.
So whose win was better? Sunline carried more weight (only 0.5kg), but beat an inferior all-round field by a smaller margin. But the second and third place getters in Sunline’s win were superior to the second and third placegetters in More Joyous’ win. More Joyous was weighted at 57.5kg, just 0.5 less than Sunline despite having only won 6 Group Ones at the time and no spring Classics. At this stage of Sunline’s career she had won 11 Group Ones including two Cox Plates. Sunline should have been weighted heavier.
So is it a tie? Beating Shogun Lodge by an inch with 58kg has to be the same as beating Shoot Out with 57.5kg by a length right? Defier was probably a better horse than Yosei will ever be, but behind Yosei in 2012 there was an additional 8 Group One winners. That makes 11 Group One winners in all (including More Joyous) in the 2012 Doncaster. In Sunline’s 2002 win, the next two best horses were clearly the second and third placegetters. Out of the placing’s the nest best horses in the race were Dash For Cash, Hosanna and Ha Ha. More Joyous’ field was probably superior as a whole, but Sunline’s placegetter were better.
Let’s call it a tie!
By Zeb Armstrong