Northerly passed pacesetter and top mare Sunline in the stretch to win Saturday's AUS$3-million Cox Plate at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
Sunline, who was making her final career start in the Cox Plate, kicked in under Greg Childs turning for home but was passed by the winner, Defier, and Grandera before finishing fourth, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
"I was surprised myself," trainer Fred Kersley of Payne's positioning of Northerly throughout the run, according to the Australian Associated Press. "He got a better run than I expected. The mare (Sunline) was very brave - he (Northerly) was very good. What can you say about him? There's no words to say how good he is."
Kersley indicated there was a possibility Northerly could still start in the Melbourne Cup one week from Tuesday.
Lonhro, co-favored with Northerly in the eight-horse field, was never really a factor and finished sixth.