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No signs of slowing down for Te Akau supremo

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis cut a contented figure as he made his way back from an overnight stay in Auckland following a red-letter day for the stable less than twenty-four hours earlier.

Ellis, who had been in Auckland for the pre-event celebrations ahead of his daughter Lydia’s upcoming wedding, was on a high following the unique achievement of Te Akau preparing the quinella in not only the Gr.1 Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (1600m) at Otaki with Avantage and Prise De Fer but also in the Gr.3 Waikato Stud Slipper (1200m) with Need I Say More and Cool Aza Beel.

The results are another feather in the cap of tyro trainer Jamie Richards, who leads the Matamata based operation, but is also testament to the skill and tenacity of Ellis who is the key figure when it comes to selecting and buying the high quality horseflesh that fuels the racing team.

Fresh from outlaying over $9 million during this year’s yearling sales on both sides of the Tasman, Ellis is adamant that Saturday’s success is the key to driving the Te Akau business model.

"That was some thrill we got on Saturday and I’m incredibly proud of all of our team who work together to get these results," Ellis said.

"Jamie is doing a superb job for us and has wonderful support from a very talented team behind him.

"Each year when I go to the sales and buy and syndicate the horses we select, we have to have the results that we got on Saturday to point to, otherwise we simply can’t do what we want to do.

"People have to have a level of confidence when they are investing in horses that they have the potential to win races, not just any race but the biggest races there are.

"I am proud to point to our record and horses like Melody Belle, Te Akau Shark, Avantage, Probabeel and Sword Of Osman, to name just a handful, as the type of opportunity you get with Te Akau Racing."

While it may sound like a daunting challenge, Ellis is delighted with results to date in finding owners for his 2020 consignment of yearlings with just five individuals left to be fully syndicated less than a month after the conclusion of the National Yearling Sale at Karaka.

"This year has been very successful in getting our syndicates together and we have just a handful of places left in the last five horses that aren’t fully sold yet," he said.

"Funnily enough over the years it is those horses that have turned out to be some of our very best. I think Cool Aza Beel was third last to fully syndicate last year, Avantage was second last in her year and Sword Of Osman was similar.

"This is where my wife Karyn excels and is such a wonderful asset for our business. She really is a marvel with the owners and the way she manages the syndicates and I just can’t thank her enough.

"It is also the beauty of our model that we offer horses across such a wide spectrum so there is something for everyone. You can spend a few thousand or a few hundred thousand and there will be a horse and a place for you at Te Akau.

"We have a very loyal contingent of owners that invest with us every year and have become great friends but I’m also proud of our record in bringing new owners to the industry.

"This year I think we have eighty seven new owners on board and that is just fantastic."

It was a personal experience in his early days of horse ownership that set Ellis on the path to racehorse syndication.

"I remember one day at Ellerslie back in 1978 I won a race with a horse I owned," Ellis recalls.

"I was in the winner’s area after the race and my trainer had to saddle one up in the next so I got left on my own.

"I can remember feeling a little hollow as I desperately wanted to celebrate the wonderful feeling with other people and there was no one there.

"That is where racing a horse with a group of people is such a neat thing as it brings you all together and I firmly believe the winning sensation is even better in a group.

"Many of our syndicate members were complete strangers before they started with us and now they are firm friends and they love their racedays and plenty of gatherings and socialising away from the races as well."

With Ellis now at a stage in his life where the thoughts of many turn to slowing down and enjoying the fruits of their labour, Ellis is still motivated to keep doing what he loves.

"I guess life is as busy as it has ever been for Karyn and I, although we would both like to spend a bit more time at the beach house," he said.

"However, I still get the same thrill I always have with winning races and seeing the genuine pride and enjoyment our owners get from this and that is a very powerful driver.

"I also love the interaction with our team and the way Jamie has fitted in here and the work he is doing.

"He is a very dedicated, a well-rounded and capable young guy who isn’t afraid to ask questions and make decisions.

"When you add that in with what we are achieving it is a very powerful motivator to keep forging ahead."

In that light, Ellis and team Te Akau have set their sights on expanding their racing activity further into the Australian market.

"Our goal is to have horses racing at all of the major Australian carnivals," he said.

"Currently we have Melody Belle in Melbourne and Te Akau Shark and Probabeel in Sydney but we are looking at further opportunities for members of the team.

"There is a $1 million race in Adelaide that Avantage could contest while the Brisbane winter carnival also presents options for us. "I’ve been asked whether establishing a satellite site is Australia is an option but realistically I think our setup here is perfect for what we want to do.

"We have a wonderful base at Matamata and the cost of training and preparing horses is far cheaper while Australia is only a short plane ride away for when we do want to compete. "We can prepare here and then head over to raid the big money on offer so it is the best of both worlds." 

- NZ Racing Desk

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