Northerly: nine-time Group 1 winner landed first Cox Plate in 2001PICTURE: Getty Images
Colic claims dual Cox Plate winner Northerly
Australia: Nine-time Group 1 winner Northerly, winner of the Cox Plate in 2001 and 2002, has been put down after failing to recover from a severe colic attack. He was 15.
Northerly's death came in the same week Australia lost another great indashing front-runner Vo Rogue.
Like Vo Rogue, Northerly rose to greatness from humble beginnings and captured the heart of a nation.
Pulled from his dam at birth, motionless and cold, Northerly's story was almost over before it began. He came to life only after his owner Neville Duncan massaged his heart and it was that same heart for which Northerly became renowned.
Greg Childs, who had an unblemished record aboard the star, said he possessed all the qualities of a champion.
"It's like all good horses, their tenacity, their aggression, their will to win. Northerly was exactly like that," Childs said on Sydney's Sky Sports Radio on Thursday.
"He never travelled like a winner during the run but it was when the chips were down when he would lift and he did that on many occasions."
Trained by Fred Kersley, Northerly began his career at Ascot in Perth in the autumn of 2000 and landed the first of his nine Group 1 wins in the Railway Stakes later that year.
Claiming his first Australian Cup at Flemington in 2001, Northerly became a regular in Melbourne during carnival time. He overhauled another champion in Sunline to win the 2001 Cox Plate and returned the following year to defend his title.
Damien Oliver was aboard for the first Cox Plate victory with Childs riding Sunline and Childs said it was testament to the gelding's courage that he won.
"I kicked clear on the turn, Damien was under the bat on Northerly and going nowhere but he got up and beat me right on the line," Childs said.
"If you watch the replay you would never have thought he'd win that Cox Plate but that's how courageous and tough he was. He never travelled like a winner but always was the last man standing at the end."
In between his Cox Plate victories, Northerly showed he wasn't just a weight-for-age star when he shouldered 58kg to a memorable Caulfield Cup win.
"Northerly was a good old-fashioned champion," Kersley said in the book on Northerly's life. "He did it tough and never quit. For me there will never be another Northerly. He stands alone."
Northerly raced 37 times for 19 wins before his career was ended by a tendon injury.
He was the 2003 Horse Of The Year and is a member of racing's Hall Of Fame. Childs said he felt privileged to have played a part in the champion's story.
Dual Australian Cup winner Vo Rogue also died this week aged 28. The dashing front-runner was a darling of the turf through the late 1980s and early 1990s when he won 26 of his 83 starts and was placed on another 23 occasions for earnings of more than A$3.1 million.
From his modest beginnings at the Gold Coast where he was well beaten in a two-year-old maiden on debut, Vo Rogue rose to racing's greatest heights winning six Group 1s.
Vo Rogue's feats propelled trainer Vic Rail into the national spotlight before Rail's death in 1994 from the Hendra virus. Vo Rogue also thrust regular rider Cyril Small to national prominence.