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White Robe Lodge’s stellar weekend

Raise The Flag stands at $4,000 + gst

Raise The Flag stands at $4,000 + gst
It has been a fairly good couple of weeks for Otago's White Robe Lodge, even by their own stellar standards.

Last Friday the stud was the leading vendor by aggregate at the South Island sale selling 12 yearlings for $234,000. At the same time their son of champion sire Sadler's Wells, Raise the Flag topped the sires' list, selling six at an average of $19,833.

"It was a pretty good result for us, we did take three fillies to Karaka this year, whereas last year we took our whole draft to the South Island sale," stud manager Wayne Stewart said.

"There was a good buying bench of internationals, a few more Aussies than previously and a good number of North Island trainers. It does make a difference that you can put horses through the South Island sale and they can go to the Karaka races," he added.

On Saturday it was time for the stud's racing arm to shine when the Brian and Shane Anderton-trained Gallant Guru gelding Tommy Tucker took out the Gr.3 Canterbury Gold Cup at Riccarton. Not only did the son of the Yamanin Vital mare Lady Vital record his 15th win but he also claimed an important place in White Robe Lodge history, becoming the highest stakes earner trained out of the property.

Tommy Tucker took his earnings to $348,045 to dethrone the previous highest earner, Random Chance, whose 15 wins earned him $328,045, albeit back in the 1980s.

Later that evening there were hopes that another White Robe Lodge product, Who Shot Thebarman would be successful across the Tasman in take-two of the Sydney Cup. While that wasn't to be, with second being the lot for the tough son of Yamanin Vital, it is difficult to be disappointed with a horse who is a Group One performer with earnings of $2.8 million.

"He has had a fine year. We have had tremendous enjoyment watching him race and he has given us great thrills," Stewart said.

"We still have three half-sisters to him, two by Raise The Flag, and the winning Nom de Jeu mare, Serve De Aunt, plus we have his dam. We've also got a cracking colt foal by Ghibellines, which we will probably market at Karaka."

The trans-Tasman excitement wasn't over yet for White Robe Lodge, with another stud product Parthesia, who was a $20,000 purchase for Darren Weir at the 2015 South Island sale in action in the Listed VRC St Leger on Anzac day.

"She should've won but she got held up on the turn, but it was a tremendous race for second," Stewart said. "She has already won the Tasmanian Oaks and to go down by a short head at the end of 2800m was no disgrace."

Little wonder that staying is her forte - a daughter of the two-time winner Notable, Parthesia is a direct descendant of the dual New Zealand Cup winner Princess Mellay. Notable is a three-quarter sister to Group Two winner Blood Brotha and a half-sister to the Group Three winners De Montfort and King Johny. It is the family of Gr.1 Tancred Stakes winner Prince Majestic and one which has left a plethora of stakes performers. White Robe Lodge has a half-sister to Parthesia by their exciting new son of Shamardal, Ghibellines.

"As well as her finishing second there were two other Raise The Flag winners from the Weir stable in the past two weeks, with Unfurl and Chequered Flag," he added.

Hardly surprising then that John Richards, who races Parthesia and Unfurl was back at the South Island sale buying another Raise The Flag.

Given all that, Wayne Stewart, his wife Karen and the Anderton clan at White Robe Lodge, have good reason for their positive outlook on racing's future. An outlook, Stewart acknowledges, is aided somewhat by the promise of additional stakes money next season.

"Hopefully it will impact with more breeders choosing to get their mares covered," he said.

"The South Island breeding scene has got a lot to offer, we've got young up-and-coming stallions like Zacinto and Highly Recommended while Gallant Guru continues to leave winners, Tommy Tucker's earnings aren't bad for a $4000 service fee!"

"Ghibellines is another new horse coming on and we are looking forward to offering his yearlings to buyers next year."

The Stewart family is also doing its bit to attract new owners to the industry with son Jack involving a group of rugby mates in a syndicate which races the up and coming Gallant Guru mare Willow.

"She's got a big following, our other son Ricky is also in the ownership and they all have friends and friends of friends who are all looking at what she does on Facebook," Stewart said.

Daughter Renee has also got in on the act. "She has a nice Coat's Choice filly and has now got about 10 farming mates involved in that," he said.

Another syndicate which looks sure to attract plenty of attention is one which will combine Karen and Wayne Stewart's passion for all things Highlander. The couple are looking forward to racing a half-sister to the stakes winner of 10 of her 16 starts, Include, with members of the Highlanders squad.

"She is broken-in and has had a prep, she's a lovely type and we're just happy to bring new people in, especially with our fillies that we're going to keep." - Mary Burgess