Ellis & Returning Walker Hunting Gold Coast Riches

Date: 4 Jan 2022

Ellis & Returning Walker Hunting Gold Coast Riches


Lydia Symonds reports for ANZ Bloodstock News:


Travel restrictions force Te Akau boss to sit out Magic Millions for second consecutive year, but trainer on the ground

With Covid travel restrictions still playing havoc in parts of the world and the travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia remaining closed, Te Akau supremo David Ellis will once again be forced to watch the action unfolding at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from across the Tasman.

Twelve months ago with the country in lockdown, Ellis and Te Akau's head trainer Jamie Richards teamed up with fellow Kiwi Andy Williams to help source yearlings for the stable and they came away from last year's edition having spent $2.74 million on six yearlings, five fillies and a colt.

“Last year, I went through all the pedigrees and spent about three weeks or so doing pedigree research and analysis and then I went through all the photos and videos of each horse, and that took about another three weeks. Then I got Andy Williams, who is a great friend of Te Akau, to go and inspect the horses for me and he bid on the horses,” Ellis told ANZ Bloodstock News.



The success with the class of 2021 has been instantaneous with Bright Blue Sky (Fastnet Rock) - a filly Ellis and Williams snapped up for $600,000 - breaking her maiden on debut in the Fasttrack Insurance 2YO Stakes (Listed, 1100m) in November (above) and $500,000 purchase I Choose You (I Am Invincible), who made a winning debut over 1100 metres at Te Aroha in November (below) and was most recently seen running third in the Eclipse Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.



Like last year, Ellis has been scouring the catalogue on the hunt for potential stars of the future but, in contrast to 12 months ago, Ellis will have a member of his team on the Magic Millions complex in the shape of five-time champion New Zealand trainer and four-time Singapore champion trainer Mark Walker, who is set to return to the helm of Te Akau's New Zealand stable later this year, with Richards having been snapped up for the Hong Kong training ranks.

“This year I'm lucky that I have Mark Walker who is coming home from his position as the champion trainer in Singapore and he is going to take over Te Akau New Zealand and he is luckily on the Gold Coast now and he is going to be able to inspect all the horses for me and then we are going to have a team talk and see which ones we will target,” explained Ellis.

“But I, personally, have probably put more time into all the horses than I ever have. We will always use Andy for a second opinion because he is just such a good judge and his record speaks for itself.”

With Te Akau now an indelible force of the New Zealand racing community, the New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Yearling Sale will always be the main source of young horses for Ellis, but given the success he has had with graduates from the Magic Millions January sale, including last year's Sistema Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Sword Of State (Snitzel), a $600,000 in 2020, it is no surprise to see him return year-after-year.

“I have always had terrific success on the Gold Coast and have bought some brilliant horses at the sale and we will certainly be looking to buy a couple of colts and a couple fillies again this year,” said Ellis.

“Having Mark actually on the Gold Coast this year is terrific. Mark and I have bought so many champion horses together, so it is great to be able to have him to look at them actually on site, which of course, given the current situation, is a great thing.”

With inspections set to start tomorrow, Ellis said the quality of this year's sale looks high, believing the catalogue to be brimming with it's usual sought-after class.

“The horses at this sale are brilliant, they are early maturing horses with good pedigrees from good farms and you get a very diverse range of stallions at the sale.

“The sale on paper looks very strong as always and I think there are a lot of very nice horses in the sale, but as I said we will be doing most of the buying at Karaka, like always, but we will still be buying a few at next week's sale.”

Following her third place finish in the Eclipse Stakes on New Year's Day, I Choose You has been sent for a short spell and will be then prepared for New Zealand Group 1 two-year-old races in the autumn.

“She is having a few days in the paddock and then we will get her ready for the Group 1 two-year-old races in New Zealand,” said Ellis.

Meanwhile, the filly's stablemate Bright Blue Sky finished fourth behind current Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL, 1200m) favourite Coolangatta (Written Tycoon) in the B J McLachlan Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) on Boxing Day and with $50,177 in the bank account she sits at number 15 on the order entry for the $2 million race on the Gold Coast. However, Ellis, who is keen not to overface the filly, said the daughter of Fastnet Rock (Danehill) will not have another run before the contest and is not overly concerned if she does not make the cut.

“We are not going to run her again before the Magic Millions 2YO Classic, so we hope we get in, but if we don't get in then that is bad luck. We don't want to overface her and push the panic button just to get into one race. If she doesn't get in, the Plan B will be to bring her home and get her prepared for the Group 1's back in New Zealand,” said Ellis.

Reflecting on the success of Te Akau and the departure of Richards, Ellis added: “It is certainly a very exciting time for Te Akau, we look to have a lovely bunch of two-year-olds. It is also a very exciting time for New Zealand, with Jamie going to Hong Kong and representing our country on the world stage and it is equally exciting to have such a world class trainer as Mark coming back. My wife, Karyn, and I are just very proud of everything that Jamie has achieved in a relatively short space of time, he really is just a champion person and a champion trainer.

“What I really enjoy is developing young people and Mark has worked for me since the day he left school and Jamie came to me when he was 24-years-old and I think it is one of the great things in life, seeing these young people develop into champion trainers, it is really rewarding for Karyn and myself.”



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