Northerly, foaled in 1996, was bred by Oakland Park Stud in Western Australia, and is arguably one of Australia’s best ever middle distance racehorses.

In March 2001, Northerly headed to the Australian Cup over 2,000 metres at Flemington — his first weight-for-age race against top class opposition. Despite racing three-wide, he won by just over three lengths in course record time. Greg Childs said “On that run today, to break the track record after racing three-wide, you’d have to say he’s already on the way up to Sunline’s status. He’s not quite Sunline yet, but he’s got all the hallmarks of a champion.” Sunline, a champion New Zealand mare, had won the Cox Plate for two years running, and the spring clash with Northerly was now widely anticipated.

In September 2001 Northerly travelled to Melbourne, where he met Sunline for the first time in the John F Feehan Stakes. This time, Damien Oliver took the ride, as Greg Childs was committed to Sunline. The great mare raced clear approaching the home turn, but Northerly rallied in the straight for the narrow, fighting victory that would become his trademark. Greg Childs said, “Sunline was at peak fitness. We took off early and he looked a beaten horse. But he nailed us on the line. It was his determination. Often he looked to be struggling but he kept coming”.

Trained by Western Australian racing legend Fred Kersley, Northerly won nine Group 1 races, including the Caulfield Cup (2002), the Australian Cup twice (2001, 2003), and the Cox Plate, regarded as the Weight for Age championship of Australia, also on two occasions (2001, 2002).

The bay gelding by Serheed from North Bell was described as the “The Unlikey Champion” in a 2005 book by Bob Cain which described the career of the champion. Northerly had 37 race starts, won 19, was second 7 times, and third on 2 occasions, earning prize money of AUD$9.34 million. Northerly is remembered best for defeating Sunline twice in the Cox Plate, and then beating Fields of Omagh in the 2002 Caulfied Cup.

Speaking after Northerly’s amazing 2002 spring campaign, legendary Racing Steward Des Gleeson said that Northerly was, “The champion of his era. His Caulfield Cup win was brilliant with the big weight, and he backed up in the Cox Plate and blitzed them. He has a big motor.”

Northerly was a favourite of punters for his ability to win narrowly after appearing beaten, and this trait, in combination with his racing colours of yellow, black Maltese Cross and quartered cap, earned him the nickname of “The Fighting Tiger”. This was exemplified recently by Patrick Payne, one of Northerly’s race jockeys, who pointed out that while Northerly could be one of the first horses showing signs of tiring in a race, he was more often than not the last horse standing.

Legendary racing writer Les Carlyon wrote of Northerly: “He fools you every time he races. He has the body language of a loser and a heart as big as the Nullarbor. He invariably looks to be struggling, a shambles of a horse blundering around on memory while his jockey pumps and blusters. Then he gets going. One instant Northerly looks beaten, the next he looks unbeatable. The closer he gets to the post, the harder he tries. He grinds on. And on. And on. He simply refuses to be beaten.”

Injury forced Northerly’s retirement in July 2003. Northerly became a Living Legend in August 2010, and was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in September 2010.

On 9 May 2012, Northerly was euthanised at his breeder’s property in Busselton West Australia, following an attack of colic. He was 16 years old.

Northerly at Living Legends

Northerly at Living Legends



Date of Birth: 17/10/1996 at Oakland Park Stud in Western Australia

Sex: Gelding     Colour: Bay

Sire: Serheed (USA)     Dam: North Bell (AUS)
Grand Sire: Bell Water (FRA)

Trainer: Fred Kersley

Breeders: Oakland Park Stud

Owners: Mrs J A Kersley, Mr N G Duncan, Mrs S M Duncan, Mr R G Sayers, Mr P M Bartlett, Mr T M Patrizi, Mr I F Grljusich

Colours: Yellow, Black Maltese Cross, Yellow and Black Quartered Cap


Career Record

Northerly racing

Northerly racing

Prize Money: $9,341,850
Starts: 37       Wins: 19       2nds: 7       3rds: 2

Major Wins:

  • Australian Cup (2001, 2003)
  • Cox Plate (2001, 2002)
  • Underwood Stakes (2001, 2002)
  • Caulfield Cup (2002)
  • Yalumba Stakes (2001)
  • Railway Stakes (2000)


Date Venue Track Distance Race
10/03/2003 FLEM Good 2000 AUST CUP
22/02/2003 CAUL Slow 1800 ST GEORGE
26/10/2002 M V Good 2040 COX PLATE
19/10/2002 CAUL Good 2400 CAUL CUP
05/10/2002 FLEM Dead 2000 TURNBULL
22/09/2002 CAUL Dead 1800 UNDERWOOD
07/09/2002 FLEM Good 1600 CRAIGLEE
02/03/2002 CAUL Good 1800 ST GEORGE
27/10/2001 M V Good 2040 COX PLATE
13/10/2001 CAUL Dead 2000 YALUMBA
23/09/2001 CAUL Good 1800 UNDERWOOD
15/09/2001 M V Dead 1600 FEEHAN
11/08/2001 BEL Dead 1300 GOODWOOD
12/03/2001 FLEM Good 2000 AUST CUP
17/02/2001 CAUL Good 1600 CARLYON
30/12/2000 ASCOT Fast 1600 RAILWAY
23/12/2000 ASCOT Fast 1500 PETERS
30/11/2000 ASCOT Fast 1400 CLASS 6
08/04/2000 ASCOT Fast 1400 AQUINTA

Australian Middle Distance Champion (2002, 2003)
Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year (2003)

Australian Racing Hall of Fame (2010)



Video: Northerly — St George Stakes 2003

Video: Northerly — Caulfield Cup 2002

Video: Northerly — The Fighting Tiger

Video: Northerly — Tribute

Video: Northerly — W.S. Cox Plate 2001 and 2002

Video: Northerly — Tribute

Video: Northerly — Caulfield Cup 2002

Video: Northerly — Northerly vs Sunline


More about Northerly…