IN Racing
White Robe Lodge graduate running hot in Melbourne
White Robe Lodge have been a pillar of the New Zealand breeding industry for many years.
NZ Racing Desk | September 19, 2022
Photo: Bruno Cannatelli

White Robe Lodge have been a pillar of the New Zealand breeding industry for many years and they continued to show why they are one of the leading thoroughbred nurseries for stayers when Smokin’ Romans won the Gr.3 Foundation Cup (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

A son of resident stallion Ghibellines, Smokin’ Romans had previously won seven of his 21 starts, including the Listed Pakenham Cup (2500m), and Saturday’s win added the second Group victory for his sire after Markus Aurelius’ heroics in the Gr.2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) last year.

Saturday’s win has gained the six-year-old ballot exemption for the Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) next month, giving the White Robe Lodge team a lot to look forward to this spring.

Stud Manager Wayne Stewart was rapt with the win and is looking forward to the gelding trying to add a valuable elite-level victory to his CV.

“It was very good. He carried on from where he left off last season, and he has gone to a new level this season by the look of it,” Stewart said.

“That is a great result (ballot exemption for Caulfield Cup) when you go into a big race like that worth A$5 million with no weight on your back. It is a great opportunity.”

The win continues a good run for Ghibellines who has received plenty of interest from breeders this season.

“This is the most interest he has had since he has come here. There are bookings coming in quite regularly, it is certainly different to what it was like this time last year,” Stewart said.

“Last season he had a breakout season with Palmetto winning the two Guineas (Dunedin and Southland) and Burgie winning the Warstep (Listed, 2000m).

“Markus Aurelius was great in the Coupland’s. He is certainly proving that he can leave those better-quality horses.”

While Ghibellines has achieved plenty of success in New Zealand, Australia has also been a happy hunting ground.

“In Australia he is leaving stayers,” Stewart said. “He left two-year-old winners and nice three-year-olds, and now he is leaving good stayers like Swelter Magic who won last season at Moonee Valley on a Saturday over 2500m.

“He is proving he can leave them at all distances and all ages, which is a good position to be in rather than just one dimensional.”

Bred by White Robe Lodge principals Brian and Lorraine Anderton, Smokin Romans’ was offered through the farm’s 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft where he was purchased by Darren Weir for $52,500.

“He was a lovely yearling,” Stewart said. “He was quite an English type of horse – quite scopey and you knew what he was going to grow into.

“He was probably a wee bit immature for a yearling sale, but you could always see what he was going to grow into.

“He is a good type. He was a good-looking foal and one you would hope could take the family to a new level.

“You have got to go back a few generations to get Group One performers. It has been a damn good family, but it is hard to get those Group One winners.

“He has got to Group Three now, so hopefully he can go higher.”

Smokin’ Romans dam, Inferno, who missed to fellow resident stallion Ancient Spirit last year, will likely be covered by Ghibellines this season.

“She missed to Ancient Spirit but we have got a lovely yearling filly (by Ghibellines) out of her that we will retain,” Stewart said.

“It is a good family, and a good fillies family too. Smokin’ Romans is one of the few colts from the family.

“We will probably go back to Ghibellines after what has been happening. It would be silly not to.”

While Stewart was disappointed about Inferno’s unsuccessful mating with Ancient Spirit, he has been pleased with the level of interest the farm’s recent addition has received from breeders.

“We have only got one foal on the ground by him and are waiting on a few more,” he said.

“There has been quite a bit of interest in him, even from Australia. They know who he is and they certainly like his pedigree. He is quite an exciting horse.”

Fellow resident stallion Raise The Flag has continued to garner strong interest from across the Tasman after the success he has had from limited numbers.

“He had a good weekend. He had a winner in Christchurch and those two jumping horses (Kajino and The Anarchist) placed at Te Rapa yesterday,” Stewart said.

“In Australia he has a lot of interest from the likes of Ciaron and Declan Maher, who have both bred to him over the last couple of years, and Symon Wilde.

“They like those stayers and rather than buying them from Europe they can buy and breed them from here. It is good value for them.

“He has performed at the highest level over there with Etah James winning the Sydney Cup (Gr.1, 3200m). His statistics are quite phenomenal in Australia.

“I think it is about his staying factor in Australia, they have those 2400m maidens and up. Darren Weir said to me one day that they are only getting warm once they get to 2000m.

“It is hard in New Zealand because we don’t get 2400m maidens.”

Raise The Flag has also shown his prowess in leaving top-level jumpers.

“With those jumpers like Ablaze and Heberite, and Riding High they have won on the flat as well as over the jumps,” Stewart said.

The team at White Robe Lodge are enjoying the farm’s success on both sides of the Tasman, and Stewart credits it to not deviating from their historic model of breeding stayers.

“A lot of people aren’t breeding stayers,” he said.

“We have just stuck to what we do best through thick and thin, and it is probably rewarding us now. A lot of the major races in Australia are still staying races.”

The stallion roster at White Robe Lodge offers plenty of value for breeders, with Ghibellines standing for a fee of $8,000+GST, Raise The Flag at $6,000+GST, Ancient Spirit at $7,000+GST, and Gallant Guru at $2,000+GST.

White Robe Lodge Smokin’ Romans Foundation Cup Ghibellines Pakenham Cup Markus Aurelius’ Coupland’s Bakeries Mile Caulfield Cup Wayne Stewart Brian and Lorraine Anderton New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale Darren Weir Ancient Spirit Raise The Flag Kajino The Anarchist Ciaron and Declan Maher Symon Wilde Etah James Sydney Cup Gallant Guru