Sunday’s A$300,000 Jericho Cup (4600m) delivered a dream result for White Robe Lodge, but the iconic farm’s proprietor Brian Anderton was left lamenting the one that got away.
In an entirely Kiwi-bred finish to the ANZAC-themed Warrnambool feature for Australian and New Zealand-bred stayers, Ablaze edged out Golden Flag by three-quarters of a length. The Shaune Ritchie-trained Where Are You finished another 10 lengths away in third.
Both Ablaze and Golden Flag were co-bred by Brian Anderton, and they are both sons of White Robe Lodge’s resident stallion Raise The Flag.
They also come from the same family. Their dams are both by Personal Escort and are granddaughters of the stakes-performed Mellay mare Lamp Light.
“It was certainly a wonderful result for the farm,” Anderton said. “We bred the winner and the runner-up, they’re both by Raise The Flag, and their dams are very closely related to each other.
“They’re both by Personal Escort, whose dam (Dance Number) was one of the best fillies sired by the great Northern Dancer.
“Further down the dam line there’s Noble Bijou and Mellay, so the staying blood is very strong in both of those horses. We were pleased to see them perform so well.”
However, Ablaze’s victory was bittersweet for Anderton.
The New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame inductee bred Ablaze in partnership with Mickle Weastell, and they raced him in New Zealand up until May of this year. Trained at Wingatui by Anderton and his son Shane, Ablaze won six of his 36 starts and earnt $91,000 in prize-money.
“I’m very happy for the people that bought him off us, but it was a shame it came to that,” Anderton said.
“It was just because of a lack of opportunities here. All the way from May until after the Grand National meeting in August, we couldn’t find a single suitable staying race for him. There was also a lack of jumping jockeys based at Wingatui to help school him.
“We’re so good at breeding stayers, but we don’t really cater for them anymore.”
Sunday’s result was a triumph for Raise The Flag, who stands at White Robe Lodge for a fee of $6,000.
Raise The Flag’s racing career was restricted to just one start due to injury, but he boasts outstanding pedigree credentials. He is by the legendary Sadler’s Wells, and he is a half-brother to champion sire Dansili and five individual Group One winners.
He has made his mark at stud with 63 winners from 198 runners with 10 individual stakes winners. The biggest victories have come from Broadside in the Gr.3 Newcastle Cup (2300m) and Etah James in the Gr.3 Lord Reims Stakes (2600m), and there have been three Listed winners in Australia and two in New Zealand.
“He’s one of the best-bred horses to go to stud in the South Island,” Anderton said. “He’s done a very good job at stud, especially in Australia. We were pleased to see him win a Tasmanian Oaks (Listed, 2100m) and a Tasmanian Derby (Listed, 2200m) with horses we bred (Parthesia and Civil Disobedience). I think he’s been able to do so well over there because they put on a few more of those staying races that really suit his progeny.”
Runner-up Golden Flag was bred by Brian and Lorraine Anderton and was sold for $37,500 at the 2015 Select Sale at Karaka. – NZ Racing Desk