Heberite (Raise The Flag (GB) x Arurite (NZ)) continued the New Zealand-bred dominance of the Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) at Warrnambool with his all the way victory in the jumping feature on Thursday.
It was the fifth consecutive win in the race by a Kiwi-bred, with Gold Medals taking out the race in 2018 and 2021, while Zed Em and Ablaze won the 2019 and 2020 editions respectively.
Heberite carried the same colours as Ablaze to victory for trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, with both geldings being the product of White Robe Lodge stallion Raise The Flag.
Ablaze was co-bred and co-trained in New Zealand by Brian Anderton before his sale to Australia, while Heberite was initially in his care where he won four of his 22 starts in his homeland before heading offshore.
“It is great with Ablaze and now Heberite,” Anderton said. “Both are Raise The Flags, so it was really good.
“Raise The Flag is a great sire of stayers, they stay all day. We are thrilled.
“I co-bred Ablaze and Ian (Nichol) and Ray (Kean) have kept a 10 percent share each in Heberite.
“My son-in-law Wayne Stewart (White Robe Lodge Studmaster) has got to get some credit. He arranged the sale of both Heberite and Ablaze, and some locals have remained in the ownership.” Anderton said Heberite was a promising horse and it was great to see him victorious in the Grand Annual at just his second steeplechase start.
“He was a lovely horse,” Anderton said. “When we had him he just wasn’t quick enough on top of the ground, he preferred soft ground. The last start we gave him he won by 10 lengths at Oamaru on the flat.”
Following the race, co-trainer Ciaron Maher was clearly animated with the result, his sixth Grand Annual win.
“It is unbelievable,” he said. “I think it is the best race in the whole calendar, it is to me anyway. It is phenomenal.
“Over the whole carnival, the jumps races have been hard fought.”
It was a family affair as well for Maher as well.
“My brother Dec, his heart and soul is these horses,” he said. “It is Mum and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary today as well.” – NZ Racing Desk