Northerly was a bay gelding that amassed over nine million Australian dollars in winnings over the course of his career. He was arguably Australia’s best middle distance horse of the late 20th century.
In total he had 37 starts, 19 wins, 7 seconds and 2 thirds. Northerly was a favourite among the betting public for his ability to win after appearing defeated, and it was this trait, in combination with his racing colours of yellow and black with a Maltese Cross and quartered cap which earned him the nickname of The Fighting Tiger.
The bay gelding was on par with current greats such as Buffering and Black Heart Bart, both of which have won many races and raced well into their later years compared to colts or stallions.
Australia’s Best Middle Distance Horse
The first race Northerly was entered into was an unsuitably short sprint but offer great bonuses and best odds on horse betting. He did not perform well, so it was decided to try him over a longer distance. This suited the gelding much better, as he took a while to warm up and really get going. He was well known for mucking about at the begging and middle of his races, and just when he looked defeated he would rally and beat the front-runners. This ability kept punters and bookies alike on their toes, never knowing whether this would be the race in which he failed to turn on his afterburners.
Northerly did not race as a two year old as he was not mature enough. His three year old season only had two starts, one third and one first. It seemed that the horse took his racing career as he did his races, taking a while to really get going.
In his four year old season the gelding stormed onto the Australian racing scene, with eight starts and five wins. A year later he had ten starts for six wins, three places and one eleventh. The Railway Stakes in Perth was a home race for him, and great things were expected after his Cox Plate win. The crowd came out in full force to support their favourite Perth bred horse. Unfortunately for everyone in the stands waving his colours, Northerly wilted badly in the home straight under 61.5 kilograms. He could not do better than eleventh out of 16 behind the Lindsey Smith trained Old Comrade, who again defeated Northerly in the Australian Cup in March. His four year old season was a tough one, with very little rest so his trainer decided to give a long spell before his next season which began in the spring.
Six and Eight Year Old Seasons
Northerly ran a huge six year old season, with 14 starts and seven wins. By now the gelding was a firm favourite, and thus had to carry heavy weights at every race. The season ended with a 6th place behind Freemason at the BMW Stakes at Rosehill.
He did not compete in his seventh season as he has a torn tendon on his off fore, possibly due to the strain of racing. He did return for an eight year old season, however, which had only three starts in which he did not place at all.
After the three starts as an eight year old, Northerly was retired as a living legend to live out his days in a green field. He was euthanized in 2012 at the age of sixteen after a bout of colic.