The Horse That Inspired Me
 By Valkyrie   •   19th Dec 2009   •   3,782 views   •   7 comments
This isn't an article brimming with a factfile about this phenomenal horse, though I will include some quick info, this is an article about how she has touched my life.

You see, I love racehorses. When I was little I wanted to be a jockey, but I got too tall. Now I want to own them. There's just something about the thrill of watching the gates fly open, seeing them flash out and battle for the lead, thundering around the bends and fighting it out for first place down to the very wire. It's magical. Entrancing. At least, it is to me.

Being from New Zealand, I never had the opportunity to learn about American champions like Secretariat, Man'O'War and Seabiscuit until later on in life, so they never really wormed their way into my heart.

Not the way my heroine did.

Her name was Sunline, and she was a bay mare with a bad attitude. She was born in 1995 and raced from she was two, until she retired at age seven in 2002. From 48 races she won 32, finished second nine times and third three times, for over $11,000,000 in earnings.

I used to find out whenever she was racing and put everything on hold just to watch her, I even pretended to be sick so I wouldn't have to go to a touch rugby game, just so I could watch her race. I was young (she raced from when I was five until when I was ten) and it was easy for her influence to grow on me. I would stand up and scream and yell "GO SUNLINE!" whenever a challenger loomed on her in the straight. It even got to the point where I would whip the couch with a flyswatter, pretending to be her jockey. Every loss felt like an arrow to my heart, and every victory was the wind beneath my wings.

I remember when she was retired they took her to the racecourse where she had her first ever race. It was near where I lived so my nana and poppa took me out of school and drove me there for a day of racing, and to meet my idol. It was $5 per picture and we stood in line down near the saddling shed for ages. I was so impatient, but eventually we were shown through.

And there she was.

I couldn't believe it. My idol, the Goddess who had fueled my love of the Sport of Kings, stood in a saddling stall with the cross-ties attached to her halter. I remember she seemed so big, at least to a ten-year-old girl she was, and every inch of her dark brown coat gleamed. She turned her head and pricked her ears at me, a scrawny little tomboy in a Swandri and gumboots. I didn't feel fit to be in her presence.

I got to stand next to her to get my picture taken. She had a reputation as a hand-biter, but I wrapped my fingers around the cross-tie as close to her mouth as I dared and smiled my heart out. After the picture was taken I gave a drawing I'd done of Sunline to her strapper Claire Bird, who thanked me and smiled, which made my day.

The picture I got with my heroine now stands on my dressing table back home. She has her ears flicked slightly back, her head slightly raised, wearing an old rug. I'm small and badly-dressed with a head of hay-coloured hair that looks like I hadn't washed it in a week. Nevertheless, it's one of my favourite pictures.

You see, Sunline was euthanised earlier this year after fighting a losing battle with laminitis. When I heard the news that she'd died, it felt like my heart had been ripped out and thrown under the Melbourne Cup runners. I couldn't believe it, she was just 14. She'd raced in stampeding packs of pushing, shoving horses. She'd flown to countless destinations. She'd even survived an accident where a truck crashed into the paddock she and her foal were grazing in. How could such a mighty horse be struck down by such a meaningless disease?

I barely got a wink of sleep that night. The next day my poppa and I went to Te Aroha to watch a race-meet. And lo and behold, who should be racing? Sunline's second foal, and first daughter, Sunstrike! I was rapt, absolutely ecstatic. I bet on her but unfortunately she finshed second to another racehorse I really admire (Can't Keeper Down). Nevertheless it was a great thing to see, she was the spitting image of her famous dam.

And the whole day a banner made from a bedsheet flapped on the rail beside the birdcage: "RIP Sunline, the greatest horse ever".

Sunline was the horse that touched a nation. She was a champion. Whenever she ran the entire country would stop to watch, including a little girl with big dreams.

(The first pic is of Sunline, which I did not take. The second is a picture of her daughter Sunstrike which I DID take and is credited to
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Rebel Acres  
wow! amazing story! thanks for sharing!
  Dec 19, 2009  •  2,692 views
that was a very touching story, I love all horses including racehorses and I know how it feels to lose a great horse. the was Barbaro he lost only one race and that was because he broke his ankle they work on him for 7 months before he lost his life to lamaitious
  Dec 19, 2009  •  2,685 views
Ohh, That was such a good story! I felt the same way when Barbaro died. He was my first Derby. I screamed when he won, I screamed even louder when he broke down, and I cried for months after he died. My life revolved around Barbaro for months, and to tell you the truth, almost 4 years later, My heart still screams every time I hear his name.
  Dec 19, 2009  •  2,778 views
Wow! that was great! =D
  Dec 19, 2009  •  2,649 views
aww, this is such a touching story, thank you for sharing it with us, have never really got into racing, i watch the grand national and that is about it, it makes me want to watch it more now :D
  Dec 19, 2009  •  2,641 views
Crystal Lake  
That was an amazing story!!!
  Dec 20, 2009  •  2,756 views
Baby Bee  
I was a big fan of sunline I hop she stay's in your heart for ever
  Feb 16, 2010  •  2,709 views
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