Big weekend for Ghibellines
By Jonny Turner
Standout performances by Marcus Aurelius and Ranger continued Ghibellines' excellent new season form over the weekend.
Ranger (Ghibellines - Turn The Page - Danzighill) starred on one of New Zealand racing's biggest stages when running to an impressive 1300m win for trainer Debbie Sweeney and rider Chad Ormsby at Hastings on Saturday.
Ranger, bred by Brian and Lorraine Anderton and raised at White Robe Lodge, powered away from his rivals to go one place better than his good second on the first day of the Hawke's Bay Triple Crown Carnival to win in special conditions company.
After mixing it in high quality fields and notching stakes placing in his 2&3yr-old campaigns, Ranger could have barely been more impressive in three starts as a 4yr-old.
Ranger, who was knocked down to valued clients Markwood Lodge at the national yearling sales at Karaka in 2018, bolted in by nearly five lengths prior to competing at the Hastings carnival.
Markus Aurelius (Ghibellines - Evancho - Shinzig) made it a Saturday double for his sire when powering down the outer for a well-deserved win at Riccarton.
The 4yr-old raced wide throughout his 1400m win in rating 65 company, but it did not stop him from showing his class at the finish.
Bred by Brian and Lorraine Anderton and raised at White Robe Lodge, Markus Aurelius was sold to Te Akau Racing's David Ellis at the South Island Sale in Christchurch in 2018 for the bargain price of $13,000.
Trainer Jamie Richards told RaceForm ahead of the galloper's first start of his South Island campaign that he expected big things from Markus Aurelius this spring.
"He is a big long striding horse that has been caught out on tight-turning tracks a few times."
"We have got sick of waiting on the ground to improve so we have sent him down nice and early."
"He is racing for good stakes and hopefully he is on the way to better races."
Markus Aurelius was ridden to victory on Saturday by Chelsea Burden.
Jack Knows Best (Ghibellines - Structure - Yamanin Vital) almost notched another win for his Ghibellines at Riccarton.
The 4yr-old, bred and sold by Brian and Lorraine Anderton at the South Island Sale in 2018, went down narrowly over 1400m for trainer Lance Robinson and rider Tina Comignaghi.
The White Robe Lodge racing team produced Raise You Ten (Raise The Flag - Molly Malone - Towkay) for an excellent third placing in the 1800m North Canterbury Cup on Saturday.
The Raise The Flag 7yr-old made up good late ground for rider Courtney Barnes in just his second attempt past 1600m.