Sunline, winning the Hong Kong Mile.

Sunline, winning the Hong Kong Mile.

George Selwyn

Sunline To Contest Dubai Duty Free, Not World Cup

by Alastair Bull
New Zealand mare Sunline will be in Dubai on March 24, but not for the $6 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). Sunline had been considered a possibility for the world's richest race, but following a journey to Dubai, her connections decided she would instead contest the $2 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-II), at about nine furlongs on turf.

Trevor McKee, who owns half of Sunline and trains her with his son Stephen, said he wouldn't have time to prepare her for the 1 1/4-mile dirt race. "I think 2,000 meters on sand in Dubai would be like running 2,200 meters or 2,400 meters on turf here," McKee said.

Sunline, the winner of 23 of her 31 starts and more than $NZ9 million, had an easy time after the Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) in mid-December and due to quarantine restrictions has not been in serious training for long. Her only start since was an easy victory in the group I Waikato Draught Sprint (seven furlongs) in New Zealand on Feb. 10.

The decision comes after a bizarre week in which her connections first announced Sunline would run in the World Cup and then claimed no call had been made before the Duty Free option was confirmed Monday.

The Dubai Duty Free could be the stronger of the two races. Apart from Sunline, it is set to include Hong Kong champion Fairy King Prawn, the French-trained Hong Kong specialist Jim And Tonic and last year's Sussex Stakes (Eng-I) fourth Golden Silca.

"The Duty Free is probably the harder option in terms of class but the distance is better for her at this stage," McKee said.

No decision has been made on where Sunline will head after Dubai. Options include returning to New Zealand or campaigns in either Europe or the United States.