Wayne Stewart, Jack Stewart and Bailey Kennedy of White Robe Lodge.  Photo: Supplied

Ancient Spirit heads White Robe Lodge stallion roster

NZ Racing Desk
5 July 2024

Famed Southern nursery White Robe Lodge has announced the service fees for their roster of four stallions, which features emerging young stallion Ancient Spirit ($7,000+GST) along with the proven trio of Ghibellines ($7,000+GST), Raise The Flag ($4,000+GST) and Gallant Guru ($2,000+GST).

With legendary horseman Brian Anderton still in the fold, the family-run stud farm has three generations involved in the day to day operation of the Taieri Plains property.

All three of White Robe Lodge’s established stallions have sired a Group One winner in Australia, while there is great anticipation as the first crop of Ancient Spirit are set to hit the track in the new season after being well-received in the auction ring.

By Invincible Spirit out of Galileo’s daughter Assisi, Ancient Spirit was a dual Group Two winner in Germany before he retired to White Robe in 2021. Among his yearling offerings was a filly sold to Ballymore Stables, Paul Moroney Bloodstock and Catheryne Bruggeman for $160,000 on the final day of the Book 2 Yearling Sale at Karaka.

“It was pleasing to see them so well received,” Anderton’s grandson Jack Stewart said.

“To stand at $7,000 and average at $92,500 is a pretty good return on investment for breeders.

“It wasn’t just what they made, it was the word on them leading into Karaka based on type. It was very satisfying to see them sell accordingly.

“We have weaned a lot here, so we know they are intelligent horses with good attitudes and that has been the early reports from the breakers and trainers.  

“The best thing is they are spread from Kelvin Tyler and Robert Dennis down south to Te Akau and Roger James up north.

“There are even a couple we have sold privately that will go to Ciaron Maher and Lindsay Park in Australia, so they are in the right hands.”

With his father Wayne and mother Karen managing the stud, along with founder Brian Anderton, a New Zealand Racing Hall of Famer, Stewart has plenty of experience to call upon at White Robe Lodge, which has stood two Australasian champion sires in Mellay and Noble Bijou.

“We all have a pep in our step coming to work in the morning with the stock of Ancient Spirit,” Stewart said. “You can tell with Granddad when he comes down and sees us weaning them or for a trip around farm to feed out.  

“He might be 87, but he has still got a good eye. Invariably he’ll pick one out of the paddock and it will be an Ancient Spirit and you can tell the fire still burns — he gets that twinkle in his eye and you know that he is getting excited — and so are we coming into the season to see them trialling and up and going.”

Ghibellines will stand at a slightly reduced fee this season but Stewart said demand remains strong for the progeny of the stallion, who has 15 stakes performers headed by Group One winner Smokin’ Romans.

“His market now is the trade market for tried horses, which is really strong. His results in Australia from horses sold off the farm or that have trialled or raced well and then gone over,” Stewart said.

“A couple of weekends ago he had seven winners in the space of 24 hours between Australia and New Zealand and it was from a two-year-old winning on debut through to a horse winning an open handicap over 2200m.

“Through horses like Smokin’ Romans and Desperado, who won at Caulfield last weekend, they keep kicking goals over that middle distance, which we like to do.

“We want our horses to be late autumn two-year-olds and three-year-olds but to train on and be sound, tough horses. I think that is what White Robe Lodge has always been renowned for.

“That’s what Granddad has done. He has built good, tough, sound stock and good relationships with people.”

Raise The Flag is another stallion noted for longevity and staying prowess.

“He is getting a bit long in the tooth but he once again, he can leave a stayer that the Australians like,” Stewart said.

“If any of his horses show anything there are phone calls straight away. 2000m plus is where they really come into their own and his best ones have always showed ability at three and trained on.”

Gallant Guru completes the roster and is largely known as a regular sire of winners, but he has sired Gr.1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) winner Patrick Erin among his 12 stakes performers.

“Each active stallion at the stud has left a Group One winner in Australia, which is something we’re pretty proud of. That is our main market and we want them to go there and do the business,” Stewart said.

White Robe Lodge is keen to see the breeding industry flourish at an exciting time for the New Zealand industry, which has enjoyed significantly bolstered prize money over the past 12 months.

“Anyone who breeds two or more mares this year will get ten percent off,” Stewart said. “Alongside that, any mare that comes to the stud, for the duration of her time here until she’s had her 42-day positive, it will be $10 a day grazing.”

Stewart, who has recently celebrated the birth of his second child, said the farm continues to invest and refresh the broodmare band and will look to add another stallion next year should the right prospect present.  

“In the last year or two we have bought mares out of Australia and racehorses to race and breed from,” he said.

“We’ve bought fillies and mares by Savabeel, Ocean Park, Pride Of Dubai, Oasis Dream, Redoute’s Choice, Hellbent and So You Think. It’s an exciting time for New Zealand racing and breeding and we’re looking to push things. We aren’t going anywhere soon."

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