A Proud New Commitment

Date: 6 Feb 2020

A Proud New Commitment

David writes - the background to our new sponsorship of the Waikato Racing Club's $100,000 Group 2 David and Karyn Ellis Fillies' Classic ...

In 1971, I went to a race meeting for the first time. It was the Easter meeting at Ellerslie and I very quickly fell in love with thoroughbred racing. I just loved the excitement of seeing the horses race and dreamed about somehow getting involved.

In 1972, I had my first full time job working on Te Karaka Station, 15 miles south of Port Waikato. I was paid $35 gross per week and every day off that I had, I went to the races. I was absolutely obsessed with our great industry. I would spend hours each night reading the "Best Bets" publication and knew the form of basically every horse racing in New Zealand.

That's how deep my interest was.

In 1978, I won my first ever race with a filly that trainer Bill Ford and I raced together. "Magnum" was my first winner that year, finishing first at Paeroa and ridden by Ron Taylor. She then went on to win the following year at Ellerslie - so you can imagine how exciting I found that!

In 1979, I purchased my first farm in the Waimai Valley and moved to the Waikato to live.

Then in 1983, I was asked by Roy Robinson and Ken Browne to become a steward at the Waikato Racing Club. After two years as a steward, I was elected to the Committee. Ken Browne was President and Herbie Dyke was Vice President.

The following year, Ken retired and Herbie became President and then appointed me as Chairman of the Sponsorship Sub-Committee. My goal was to get a cash sponsor for every single race held at Te Rapa. It took almost three years of hard work to achieve this but we did it!

During this time, Herbie and I met with (Sir) Patrick Hogan and over a few drinks, we came up with the race that was to be named the Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic. The first running was about 30 years ago and the original stake was $100,000 - a huge mount then for a three year old fillies' race.

It was such a proud moment for our Club.

Nine years later, I became the Chairman of the Waikato Racing Club and held that position for the then customary five years, having to be re-elected annually. I was also Chairman of the Waikato District Committee and represented the district on both the New Zealand Racing Conference and then New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR). I also represented NZTR on the Board of New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing for about seven years.

None of these positions were paid - we did it all because we love contributing to, and being involved in, this great industry. One of my proudest moments was to be awarded a Life Membership by the Waikato Racing Club.

When I married Karyn almost 16 years ago, she was also keen to put more back into the industry. She did a lot of voluntary MC-ing and events for the industry but she felt she could give more.

She had been World President of Jaycees, spending something like 15 years in the organisation, serving voluntarily at all local, regional, national and international levels. You have to retire from Jaycees at 40 so she was ready to get her teeth into more voluntary service, and the racing industry was her choice. The love she had for the industry had only cemented itself during her time working as a presenter for Trackside TV, she and George Simon being the inaugural hosts.

She was elected to the Board of the Waikato Racing Club ten years ago and served three years on the Board. For the past seven years Karyn has been the Chairman of the Club.

So it's fair to say, we have both put an enormous amount of time into our Club, which we both love.

When we were on our annual holiday overseas last July, we decided we would like to put something further back in to racing in the Waikato and we agreed that it would be fun to sponsor a major race together at Te Rapa when one became available.

So when the Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic became available, we told the Waikato Racing Club that we would sponsor the race for our life time and call it the David and Karyn Ellis Fillies' Classic (yes Karyn decided her surname was too long for the race name!).

This is one way we thought we could put something back into our great industry and a Club very dear to both our hearts - both of which give us so much pleasure. After all we met through the industry.

Best of luck to the Waikato Racing Club and ...



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