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White Robe Lodge significant factor

(Upper Cut who completed successive wins in the NZ Grand National Steeplechase)

White Robe Lodge has played a big part in the winning record of Awapuni trainer Mark Oulaghan in the New Zealand Grand National Steeplechase.

Upper Cut gave Oulaghan his sixth win in the race when successful over the 21 fences and 5600m at Riccarton on Saturday (12/8/2017). He is the most successful trainer in the 143 year history of the race. Upper Cut had won the National last year. Oulaghan has also won the race with Deecee Seven (1997 -98) and Counter Punch (2010-11). All three horses have succeeded as 10 and 11-yr-olds. An older horse has not won the race since the 12yr-old Robert Earl in 1971.

Upper Cut and Counter Punch are both by Yamanin Vital, the deceased WRL sire. Counter Punch, bought for $6000 as a 2yr-old at the South Island sale, was bred by WRL principal Brian Anderton, Dennis Roughan and Jack Mears. He was out of Tripartite, by Tawfiq from Supreme Bijou, by Noble Bijou.

Upper Cut was bred by the late Jim and Shirley Murray, of Mosgiel.  Jim was veterinarian to WRL for 52 years and saved champion WRL sire Noble Bijou after he shattered a pastern in 1979. Jim constructed a metal support for the injured leg. Jim died on November, 2011 at the age of 80. Shirley died in February, 2015 at the same age. Jim bought Volucidate, the dam of Upper Cut, for $1000 in the broodmare section of the 2005 South Island sale. An unraced daughter of Volksraad - Elucidate and half-sister to two minor winners, she had left two foals but had not been served for two years. He bred a filly by Yamanin Vital from Volucidate after she left Upper Cut, her only registered progeny. The filly was of no account.  Oulaghan races Upper Cut with Aroha Duncan, Jim Speedy of Feilding, Michael Ormsby of Hastings and Warren Scott of Feilding. The first four owners also raced Counter Punch.

Oulaghan bought Upper Cut from the Murrays as an unbroken 3yr-old and he was broken in at Wingatui by Paul Richards. "It was about the time of Counter Punch and I approached Brian (Anderton) about another Yamanin Vital and he put me on to Upper Cut, who was in the paddock. We bought him sight unseen,'' recalled Mark.

Jim delayed cashing the cheque for the purchase of Upper Cut until he was satisfied the horse had broken in okay.

Yamanin Vital also sired Ready Eddie, winner of the NZ Grand National Hurdles on Wednesday.

The WRL trained and bred Jackfrost, who won by nine lengths in his first start over hurdles the same day, made it a double for the National meeting with an eight length win on Saturday. The son of Gallant Guru - Vital Note will now be spelled.

Accreditation (Gallant Guru - Pernote) won at Coleraine on Saturday from the Ballarat stable of Darren Weir. Accreditation, bred by Brian and Lorraine Anderton, was a $20,000 yearling purchase at the 2014 NZ Bloodstock South Island sale.

The WRL apprentice Jacob Lowry is spending a fortnight as a working holiday with the Weir stable after riding at the National meeting. "He (Jacob) is riding work and enjoying the change of scenery," said Wayne Stewart, the WRL stud manager, who arranged the trip.

The former WRL jockey Toni Direen and KC Walters, who rode out of the Wingatui stable of Terry Kennedy, have been track work riders for the Weir stable since September, 2016.