Ghibellines compiled by Lloyd Jackson
White Robe Lodge's Successful Formula to Continue
Looks are one of several considerations when judging a sire, especially a young sire setting out on a stud career and Ghibellines, White Robe Lodge's exciting new stallion, makes a strong first impression with his solid dark bay (with black points) colouring plus his magnificent balance and proportionality - a real looker.
The agent responsible for his purchase, respected bloodstock consultant Michael Otto, can be forgiven some bias but his describing Ghibellines as "a stunner" is right on the mark.
Those first impressions will possibly be sufficient for many breeders to cement their mating plans and ensure excellent early patronage, but wait, there's more............(much more).
In the unlikely event that Ghibellines fails to convince breeders on looks, his bloodlines are not only chock full of quality but are experiencing up-to-the-minute, top-class performance activity on both sides of his pedigree.
His sire, Shamardal (USA), overcame a life-threatening problem as a yearling and, for a short time, was owned by an insurance company (after they paid out his owners) and was slated to be euthanized. After some unorthodox treatment he recovered fully but when offered for sale, an endoscopic test suggested he had breathing problems. These were proven to be inaccurate but his selling price was far below what was expected given that his sire was a six-times group one champion and his dam was a full sister to the champion racehorse and sire Street Cry, whose New Zealand-based sons Per Incanto and Shocking have made splendid beginnings with each of their first crops.
He began his racing career somewhat modestly in Scotland, winning his debut at Ayr by eight lengths before scoring easily at Goodwood in the respected Gr.2 Vintage Stakes. Not surprisingly, his lease from the Maktoum's Gainsborough Stud was suddenly terminated.
Some minor niggles kept him off the track for more than two months but that did not negate an all-the-way, three length victory in England's top two-year-old event, the Gr.1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Subsequently, he was named Champion Two-Year-Old.
Shamardal's first start at three was essentially a trial for the Kentucky Derby, in the UAE Derby, but he failed to handle the dirt so was sent back to Europe where he won, in succession, the Longchamp Poule d'Essai des Poulains, Gr.1, the Chantilly Prix du Jockey Club, Gr.1 and, back to the mile, wrapping up his racing career with a crushing front-running display and easy four length victory in the Gr.1 St James's Palace Stakes, that year run at York due to Ascot Racecourse undergoing a major facility upgrade.
Shamardal retired unbeaten on turf and even now at 13 is a relatively young yet well established sire closing in on 80 stakes winners from eight dual hemisphere crops. Two of his sons are currently hogging the limelight in Asia, stars Able Friend and Dan Excel, both recent group one stakes winners in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively - two of Shamardal's 13 individual group one winners.
Among his sire sons, Lope de Vega, a winner of the same classic French double as his sire, already has forty plus winners (seven stakes winners) from two crops, the standout being the 2014 Gr.1 Dewhurst Stakes victor Belardo. This bodes well for White Robe Lodge.
Ghibellines' grandsire, Giant's Causeway, has twice headed the USA sire premiership (2010 and 2012) and to date can claim more than 150 individual stakes winners, 30 of which have secured group one status. His blood remains highly relevant courtesy of Gleneagles, the current season's star three-year-old in the United Kingdom and winner of The Two Thousand Guineas, Gr.1/Irish Two Thousand Guineas, Gr.1 double. Gleneagles' stakes winning dam You'resothrilling is full sister to Giant's Causeway.
Representing Giant's Causeway's first crop, Shamardal retains his position as his best performer as well as his best performing sire son although Footprintsinthesand (unbeaten winner of The Two Thousand Guineas, Gr.1), from the same first crop, has sired more than 40 stakes winners.
White Robe Lodge have a long and successful history of standing extremely well-bred stallions exemplified by Mellay (by The Derby winner Never Say Die from The Oaks winner Meld), who twice headed the New Zealand Sire Premiership. Mellay never made it to the racetrack and neither did his successor and multiple champion sire Noble Bijou, a Vaguely Noble half-brother to the legendary French mare Allez France. Their blood was enough.
The strategy of standing stallions with strong female families has been continued via Raise the Flag, their resident half-brother to five group one winners as well as champion sire Dansili. A similar strategy is in play with Ghibellines, with one significant difference - Ghibellines is a Gr.2 stakes winner.
His first three starts were in listed stakes races suggesting that his connections held him in high regard. He upheld that belief at big odds at his fourth start, scoring Rosehill's respected Todman Stakes, Gr.2, heading Magic Millions winner Unencumbered and Australian Guineas, Gr.1 star, Wanjina, thus justifying a run for the grand prize - the Gr.1 Golden Sipper Stakes. Like many in Mossfun's Golden Slipper he did not find the heavy track to his liking, finishing mid-field. At three, a third placing at Flemington in the Gr.2 Danehill Stakes behind Gr.3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude winner Rich Enough (later second to Shooting to Win in the Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas) was his best effort in three spring runs.
Ghibellines' dam Camarilla was a highly-ranked two-year-old of her year, winning the Gr.1 Sires' Produce Stakes at Randwick . Sadly, she died, aged just eight, after producing four foals (all winners), the standout being Guelph, Australia's 2013-14 champion three-year-old filly. Guelph landed a classic, The Thousand Guineas, Gr.1 at Caulfield but she relished Randwick where she scored at group one level three times - the Flight Stakes, the Sires' Produce Stakes and the Champagne Stakes. Clearly, the 2X3 in-breeding to Danehill didn't hurt her in the slightest.
If Guelph was an excellent filly (no real doubts there) then her very close relative Sepoy might qualify as a freak. The two have much in common blood wise as Guelph's dam Camarilla and Sepoy are identically bred, by Elusive Quality from full sisters. From seven starts at two Sepoy won six (second in the other) including the top two races for juveniles - the Gr.1 Blue Diamond Stakes and, in his final race at two, the Gr.1 Golden Slipper Stakes. In the spring of his second season he reeled off five straight - two of them group ones - at Moonee Valley (the Manikato Stakes) and at headquarters, Flemington, in the Coolmore Stakes (beating Foxwedge).
Some big bets (in the form of yearling prices) have been placed on Sepoy becoming a super sire and he has been given every opportunity to prove that expectation.
Grandam, Camarena, by Danehill (USA), was a nine times winner including the Gr.1 Queensland Derby and five times group one placed including second in the MacKinnon Stakes and third in the AJC Oaks.
Camarena's dam, the Marscay mare Canny Miss is an unraced half-sister to yet another champion two-year-old, Golden Slipper Stakes winner and leading sire Canny Lad (sire of more than 50 stakes winners) plus his sister, the triple group one winner Canny Lass - two of three stakes winners from the wonderful producer Jesmond Lass.
Queensland based Rothesay, a son of Fastnet Rock, is a Gr.2 Queensland Guineas winning grandson of Canny Lass and has made a promising start to his stud career with six winners (two in Brisbane) in his initial crop.
The next dam, Beautiful Dreamer, has an interesting pedigree, being by Coeur Volant (a grandson of Nasrullah's half-sister Dodoma) out of a mare by Jambo (a son of Dodoma) and from whom descend a total of 18 stakes winners.
Twelve of the 18 began their race careers in the new millennium making this a very modern family. Worthy of note is that 14 of them contain close-up Biscay blood - seven via Bletchingly and seven directly from the Marscay mare Canny Miss. Since this (Ghibellines') branch features Sepoy and Guelph, it is by far the strongest and most desirable - and therefore makes Ghibellines even more attractive.
A handsome Gr.2 stakes winner with the world's most current, high quality bloodlines.
What's not to like?
(Statistics and pedigree data courtesy of Arion Pedigrees)