Business as Usual for King of Karaka

Date: 20 Jan 2020

NZ Racing Desk reports:

With the 2020 edition of New Zealand Bloodstock's National Yearling Sale series set to kick off in a week's time, the wins of class mare Avantage and promising filly Festivity at Trentham on Saturday put a smile a mile wide on the face of Te Akau Racing boss, David Ellis.

The leading buyer of yearlings at the sale for well over a decade, Ellis knows his reputation and the success of the Te Akau brand requires racetrack achievement and winning races at this time of the year, when the industry's premier shop window is about to open for business, has a value that money can't buy.

Avantage won the G1 Telegraph on Saturday - Race ImagesThe Te Akau blueprint is based on buying quality yearlings, that are then syndicated amongst a loyal existing client base and a growing band of new customers, who can win in the lucrative age-group events before going on to bigger and better things as older horses.

Ellis can point to Avantage as a prime example of that philosophy.

“Sale time is a vitally important time of the year for us because if we buy the wrong type of horses it won't matter how good a trainer we have, they won't win races,” Ellis said.

“We spend a lot of time concentrating on getting the right horses and Avantage is a classic example of that.

Avantage as a yearling

“She is a horse that can race as a two-year-old, go to Australia and win Group races as a three-year-old, come back even better as a four-year-old and she will have her best season as a five-year-old.”

A $210,000 purchase from The Oaks Stud draft at the 2017 Premier session at Karaka, Avantage won both the $1 million Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and Gr.1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m) at two, won the Gr.3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill at three and has now taken out her second Group One with victory in the JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham on the weekend as a four-year-old mare.

“Melody Belle and Probabeel are other great examples for us in recent years,” Ellis said.

Melody Belle as a yearling

“It is all very well buying these horses but we have got to see them perform for their owners as unless they are performing, they are not going to reinvest with us.”

Ellis was also delighted by the win of Festivity who was purchased as a member of a special fillies syndicate back in 2018 that is flying through the deeds of the I Am Invincible three-year-old and fellow syndicate member Exaltation.

A $410,000 purchase at the 2018 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Windsor Park Stud, she is owned by the Te Akau 2018 Fabulous Fillies Breeding Syndicate.

“I bought three fillies for the syndicate and unfortunately we lost a Savabeel filly with a beautiful pedigree, so that's left us two lovely fillies and between them they've had three starts for three wins,” Ellis said.

“Exaltation is a half-sister to our Horse of the Year Melody Belle, who has won a further nine Group One races since we bought these fillies, so her value has skyrocketed and Festivity, too, is now a very valuable filly.”

“It's a big relief, a big thrill and very encouraging for us.”

As always Ellis is looking forward to this year's yearling sale where he believes the mixture of established stallions and first season newcomers has given the catalogue plenty of depth and opportunities for buyers across all categories.

“I will be at Karaka from Tuesday and will be looking at horses every day until the sale starts on Sunday (January 26),” he said.

“We started looking back in November and what I have seen so far is very impressive.

“I think the mild winter we have had has really boosted the yearlings as I have seen so many that are well grown, correct and very athletic.

“This year's catalogue has a great mix with some of our proven stallions but I've also seen individuals by the first season sires like Vadamos, Turn Me Loose and Tivaci, to just name a few, that I really like so there will be something on offer for everyone.

“This is the most exciting time of the year for me and I can't wait for the sale to start.”

Te Akau Racing has flexed its muscle in recent times, with trainer Jamie Richards well-clear in the current season New Zealand trainers' premiership, with four Group Ones in New Zealand and one in Australia to his name already this season.

Meanwhile, the operation's Singapore-based trainer Mark Walker has dashed to an early lead in the Singapore trainers' premiership, fresh from winning his third title in the territory in 2019, to add to his five earlier trainers' premierships in New Zealand. 


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