The Connors – White Robe Lodge association
The wins of Wise Men Say ( $50,000 McGregor Grant Steeplechase) and Max (maiden hurdles) at Ellerslie on Monday (8/6/2017) continued a long and successful association for White Robe Lodge with Whangaehu(near Wanganui) owners Mark and Raymond Connors.
The father and son dairy farmers who train Wise Men Say and Max, have had good wins with the WRL-bred horses Blood Brotha, Hypnotize, Our Jonty, King Johny and Among Thieves.
The quintet, along with Wise Men Say and Max, trace to Princess Mellay. She won the New Zealand Oaks at Riccarton in 1969 and the NZ Cup in 1970 and 71 when trained at Wingatui by Hector Anderton for his wife, Alice. Hector bred Princess Mellay from a mating of Mellay and Princess Ermine, who was by by Beaumaris from White Robe, by Sir Galloway from Pink Robe, whom he trained for the last of her five wins. Hector bought Pink Robe (Pink Coat - Loch Tava) in the mid-1940s when she was carrying White Robe, who gave his son Brian his first win as a jockey at Wyndham in October, 1950. White Robe was the sixth foal of Pink Robe.
"We have had so much success with White Robe Lodge -bred horses that we just keep going back for them,'' said Raymond Connors.
The association began when they bought Our Jonty and Among Thieves for $6500 each as 2yr-olds at the 1993 South Island sale. Both horses were by Random Chance. Our Jonty was out of the unraced Lal's Gift (Noble Bijou - Princess Mellay) and Among Thieves was out of Red Gown (Noble Bijou - Princess Orchid, by Oncidium - Princess Mellay).
Our Jonty, bred by the Alice Anderton family Trust, won the 1998 Great Northern Steeplechase and Waikato Steeplechase when trained by Kevin Myers and ridden by Raymond Connors, then an amateur rider. Among Thieves won six times over hurdles from the Myers stable with Raymond the rider.
Blood Brotha won the 2013 Wellington Cup and two New Zealand Cups when trained by Raymond. Blood Brotha, bred by Brian and Hec Anderton and their wives, Lorraine and Pat, was by Danzighill out of Laura Dee, a half-sister by Personal Escort to Our Jonty. Blood Brotha was passed in for $14,000 at the 2007 SI sale when his reserve was $15,000. He was later bought by the Connors on the recommendation of WRL.
King Johny, a half-brother by Seasoned Star to Our Jonty, won the group three Manawatu Classic in 2005 and placed in the NZ and AJC Derbies. He died of a heart attack as a 6yr-old.
Hypnotize won the Northern Steeple in 2007, 08 and 2010 when trained by Raymond and ridden by Isaac Lupton, who rode Max and Wise Men Say in their wins. Hypnotize was by Yamanin Vital from Auburn Rose, by Tawfiq from Tiara, a sister to Lal's Gift.
Hypnotize, who also won a Pakuranga Hunt Cup, was bred by Brian and Lorraine Anderton and sold for $20,000 at the 2001 SI sale.
Wise Men Say was bred by Brian and Lorraine and Eric Parr, of Ashburton and changed hands for $37,500 at the 2011 SI sale. He is by Yamanin Vital from Vaguely Famous (Famous Star - Tiara) who died five months after foaling him. His breeders have her only daughter, Zerperfluous (by Falkirk), the dam of Fascinate, winner of four races this season for the WRL stable.
Max is by Gallant Guru and the first of two foals left by Vitique, a sister to Hypnotize and winner of three races to 2200m for WRL. Vitique died of a haemorrhage after producing a filly to Gallant Guru in 2010. The filly, Vitalize was reared on a foster mother. Vitalize later died without producing.
Mark and Raymond Connors had the mares Za Sista and Pinny at WR this season. Not surprisingly both mares trace to Princess Mellay. Za Sista produced a filly by Ghibellines and Pinny a colt to that sire.