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Ellis retains Karaka crown

Te Akau principal David Ellis. Photo: Angelique Bridson

Te Akau principal David Ellis. Photo: Angelique Bridson

Te Akau principal David Ellis retained his crown as the leading buyer at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale for the 17th consecutive year at Karaka last week.

“We have grown accustomed to expecting that David is going to be the leading buyer each year, but we certainly don’t take it for granted,” New Zealand Bloodstock Managing Director Andrew Seabrook said.

“The contribution he makes year on year is significant and the industry would be a lot poorer without him. I rue the day that he won’t be leading buyer.

“Although mainly purchasing in Book 1, he was supportive in Book 2 as well, and buying over 30 horses from $20,000 to $850,000 is a huge range that allows people to get involved at different levels.

“He was very competitive in a strong top end to the sale this year and noticeable that he and the Te Akau buying team were pretty determined on the lots they really wanted to secure.

“It’s quite remarkable how quickly he syndicates horses, along with Karyn (Fenton-Ellis MNZM) and the team at Te Akau.

“In addition to New Zealand Bloodstock, I do know how much the breeders and vendors appreciate David buying their horses and his overall support of the local product. We all realise we’d be a lot poorer without him.

“It’s not just the fact that he buys a nice horse and is a very good syndicator, but you need the results on the track to back that up and give people confidence to get involved.

“It’s very much a part of it. Te Akau winning the last six Karaka Million 2YO races is key to the success, having broken the New Zealand record for wins last season, leading clearly again this season, and the success they’ve had in Australia.”

Ellis purchased his first horse in 1983 at the Trentham Yearling Sales and has continued to buy every year since.

Last season, Te Akau reached new heights when setting a domestic record of 160 wins, including 36 at stakes level and 13 at Group One level, with a further four stakes wins across the Tasman including two Group One wins to Probabeel.

Ellis has purchased the winners of 80 Group One races and is the most successful buyer of Group horses in the history of New Zealand racing.

“We don’t set out to buy the most horses each year at Karaka, but more so what we regard as the best on offer and we’ve been very fortunate to have been rewarded with some exceptional performers,” Ellis said.

“I’ve got no doubts after going around them for the last few days, looking at these horses and feeding them, that it’s the best lot of young horses we’ve ever bought.

“The quality of horses keeps getting better that the studs, farms, and breeders present us with and it’s reflected in these young equine athletes. It’s very clear in my mind to visualise how they’ll grow and develop.

“There is an enormous amount of quality and class amongst them. I can see our owners having a lot of fun racing them and it’s very exciting.

“The early response has been remarkable. We’ve had a lot of new owners and huge reinvestment from our existing clients.

“We buy horses to have in our shop window, on our website etc, for six months, but the current selling of shares suggests they’ll all be sold before then.

“It’s a special time for us when we’re selling the young horses because we know it’s also exciting for owners and we welcome people to get touch, come and see them, and get involved.

“A lot of interest comes from word-of-mouth, with new investment coming from contacts within our existing owners that like the way that we treat them, like the way we communicate with them and enjoy the success of the stable.

“By the time these horses are able to race there will be over eighty one-million dollar races throughout Australasia and people want to be involved and try to win those races.”

The advent of the Colts’ Syndicates, and more recently Fillies Syndicates, at Te Akau has been particularly successful.

Most recently, Champion Two-Year-Old Sword of State has been secured to stand next season at Cambridge Stud, alongside Embellish, who was purchased by Ellis for the 2016 Colts’ Syndicate, and whose first progeny sold this year at Karaka.

Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) winner Dynastic heads the Te Akau 2021 Stallion Syndicate, and should prove tough to beat in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m) on April 2.

Currently, the syndicates have eight stallions standing at stud throughout Australasia, while the fillies and mares success has been monumental.

“As I’ve done in the past, I simply bought what I thought were the four best colts and fillies in the sale this year,” Ellis said. “The colts syndicate is full and the fillies syndicate has a couple of shares left.

“These syndicates have given our investors a good return and Exaltation, the half-sister to Melody Belle, is going to be sold in the near future on gavelhouse.com.

“We welcomed back Mark Walker to help our buying team this year. Jamie (Richards) has been a great help to me in recent years when inspecting all the horses, and it’s no wonder they’re such good trainers because they’re great judges of a yearling, too.

“These guys have helped define New Zealand racing and it’s fantastic for Jamie, a young trainer to be invited to train in Hong Kong, and it’s terrific for everyone involved in racing here to have such an internationally acclaimed trainer as Mark to come back and train here again.”

Ellis also pointed to the interest in buying shares from people in Australia, and further afield.

“Winning two Group One races within half an hour, with Probabeel and Te Akau Shark, at Randwick, that certainly helps in the eyes of everyone and we’ve won Group One races for each of the last three seasons in Australia,” he said.

“I think our record shows that we have good systems in place, have the best staff to look after and ride the horses, and if they have the talent then we’ve shown to be able to train them to perform at the highest level.”

Ellis admitted he would not continue buying at the same rate without confidence in the racing industry.

“I think the merger between Auckland Racing Club and Counties Racing Club is very exciting,” Ellis said.

“The new board has people with both commercial and racing acumen. The likes of Doug Alderslade and Mark Chitty, and to think the average stakes in 18 months is going to be $100,000 at Ellerslie, and pretty much able to race fortnightly on the new track, is incredibly exciting.

“We now pay no turnover tax and have Race Fields Legislation and those two things give racing another forty million per year, in addition to the costs Dean McKenzie (TAB Chief Transition Officer) took out of running the TAB.

“I’m a big fan of Bruce Sharrock, who takes over in April as CEO of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, to work alongside the Chairman, Cameron George, and a very good Board. Cameron is one of the best administrators in New Zealand, and does a fantastic job.” – NZ Racing Desk



 

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