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White Robe dedicated to distance performers

5 min read
White Robe Lodge has never deviated from their mission statement of producing thoroughbreds with deep reserves of stamina. It may not always be the most commercially rewarding path in an age where speed has become such a market obsession, but the Anderton family has remained true to their long-held vision as a source of distance performers.

The latest success story for White Robe Lodge is the G1 Metropolitan winner Patrick Erin (NZ), a son of White Robe resident Gallant Guru (Montjeu {IRE}), who was bred by long-time clients the Smith family and was born, raised and formerly trained by the Andertons.

Emotional victory

While they revelled in the Randwick victory of the Kiwi gelding, there was sadness to the story behind the typically rugged New Zealand 7-year-old.

“Pat Smith died four months ago, but his wife Jan was over there so it was marvellous for her,” the affable Brian Anderton said. “Pat was a builder in Christchurch and had his horses here.

“I said to Pat early on that this horse will win races, but he’s not strong enough and he needs time. He’s out of a Personal Escort mare and he was one of the first horses we brought out here.

“I said to Pat early on that this horse will win races, but he’s not strong enough and he needs time.” – Brian Anderton.

“Patrick Erin’s a very good stayer, but it was getting crazy here with him and he was carrying 60kg after he’d won only five open handicaps.”

Patrick Erin, winner of the G1 Metropolitan winner on Saturday

Thus, the decision was made after he had lumped topweight into fourth in last season’s G3 Wellington Cup to send him to champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller and Saturday’s outcome has fuelled the G1 Melbourne Cup dream.

And it’s not the first time a tough White Robe graduate has gone down the Cup route with Who Shot Thebarman (NZ) having been there and done that for Waller. He has run in three editions of the Flemington feature and finished third in 2014.

Source of stamina

His sire, the late Yamanin Vital (NZ) was stood by the Andertons and proved to be a noted producer of stayers.

“We can’t afford the best stallions so we have to try and get the best staying-bred horses that might have gone amiss,” Anderton said.

“Noble Bijou was never tried and Mellay split a pastern, otherwise we wouldn’t have got them.”

Both stallions went on to become Australasian champion sires and yes, you guessed, it sons and daughters at their best over ground and to the very highest of levels.

“We trudge along, you can’t get defeatist and have to keep looking ahead all the time,” Anderton said.

“We trudge along, you can’t get defeatist and have to keep looking ahead all the time,” – Brian Anderton.

And he’s realistic enough to know Patrick Erin’s rise in Australia will do little to lift the profile of his father Gallant Guru.

“He’s only got one outside mare, but we’ll send a dozen of our own,” said Anderton, whose wife Lorraine is also heavily involved both as a breeder and owner.

Raise The Flag

The G2 Sandown Classic winner stands alongside Raise The Flag (GB), a half-brother by Sadler’s Wells (USA) to the Group winning siblings Banks Hill, Intercontinental, Cacique, Champs Elysee and Champion sire Dansili, and Ghibellines.

The blue-blooded Raise The Flag was within range for White Robe due to the fact that he was retired through injury after one unplaced run while Ghibellines won the G2 Todman S., and fitted the farm’s criteria as a daughter of Camarilla (Elusive Quality {USA}).

“Ghibellines won as a 2-year-old, but he’s from a strong female family that can stay,” Anderton said.

“Ghibellines won as a 2-year-old, but he’s from a strong female family that can stay,” - Brian Anderton.


White Robe has long been jacks of all thoroughbred trades and pretty much masters of all.

The stud operation is run by Anderton’s daughter Karen Stewart and her husband Wayne, while Brian trains in partnership with son Shane.

Established by Anderton in 1956, White Robe Lodge spans 660 acres in total with the main farm located at the northern end of the Taieri Plains of Dunedin.

The middle property, Ardgowan, lies five kilometres to the west while the wintering farm is in Middlemarch.

Leading graduates

Who Shot Thebarman and Patrick Erin aside, other notable farm graduates include Noble Bijou’s (USA) Group 1 winning sons and daughters Prince Majestic, Alibhai and Our Sophia. Princess Mellay was a multiple top-flight winner for Mellay.

Fan favourite and White Robe Lodge graduate Who Shot Thebarman

Hypnotize (NZ) (Yamanin Vital {NZ}) won a remarkable three Great Northern Steeplechases, Jackfrost took out this season’s Great Northern Hurdle and Blood Brotha (NZ) (Danzighill) won the G2 Wellington Cup and two editions of the G3 New Zealand Cup.

Anderton’s life-long involvement in all facets of the industry has been acknowledged by his peers and in 1993 he received a New Zealand award for outstanding contribution to racing excellence. In 2012, he was inducted to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.

BJ Anderton, a member of the NZ Racing Hall of Fame, celebrated by the NZ Racing Industry