Mark Walker Returns to NZ - Jamie Richards Invited to Train in Hong Kong

Date: 17 Dec 2021

Mark Walker Returns to NZ - Jamie Richards Invited to Train in Hong Kong


Te Akau's Mark Walker, nine-time Champion trainer, is set to return to New Zealand to once again lead Te Akau's New Zealand operation.  

Te Akau Racing can confirm that the five-time New Zealand and four-time Singapore Champion trainer will return in the New Year with current Te Akau New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards being invited by the Hong Kong Jockey Club to join its training ranks in 2022.


Te Akau Principal David Ellis CNZM said:

“We are delighted on two fronts - firstly it is an honour that Te Akau's New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards has been invited to train in Hong Kong on the back of his success with Te Akau Racing.  Jamie commenced his training career in May 2015 - it all started with Te Akau and I am certainly very proud that his, and the stable's, success has been recognised internationally. It's an incredible and rare opportunity for this young New Zealander and we all wish him every success as he pursues his dream of being the world's best trainer.

“I sat down with Jamie in 2014 when he was Te Akau's Racing Manager and asked him what he wanted to do in the industry. He told me he wanted to be a trainer.  I said: ‘if you want to be a successful trainer, work hard and give your career your heart and soul. If you do, I will support you every step of the way, and give you every opportunity'. Jamie has a great work ethic, he took up that challenge. The rest is history: the results the Te Akau team has achieved are well known - last season we broke every New Zealand record - wins (160), stakes' wins (36 NZ/4 Australia), Group 1 wins (15) and prize money (almost $8 million) won for owners.”


Jamie Richards commented:

“Being invited to train in Hong Kong is an incredible honour and it's a dream come true to challenge myself against some of the world's best.  I owe so much to David (Ellis CNZM), Mark (Walker) and Karyn (Fenton-Ellis MNZM), there is no doubt that without Te Akau I would not be where I am today or have this international opportunity. They believed in me, mentored me, and surrounded me with a truly amazing team, as well as the very best of bloodstock, enabling me to develop my skill and passion as a trainer.

“I am a proud New Zealander, and I won't forget how New Zealand and leading Te Akau Racing has shaped me.  I can't wait to fly the Kiwi flag and be the very best ambassador possible for our industry in Hong Kong.”

Mark Walker's return to New Zealand comes after 11 very successful years at the helm of Te Akau Singapore.  He has been Champion Trainer there four times in the past six years, to add to his major New Zealand achievements.


Mark Walker said:

“I am very excited to be returning to New Zealand to work with quality bloodstock again, alongside a world class team of people. I enjoy educating yearlings and seeing them develop into racehorses. In Singapore we have ‘ready-made' racehorses so returning to work with these youngsters, as well as the calibre of Te Akau's older horses, will give me enormous satisfaction.

“I have remained closely involved in Te Akau's New Zealand operation while being in Singapore and with the quality of horses David (Ellis) buys, it's wonderful to be involved with the New Zealand industry again. “

Walker, who has worked for David Ellis since he left school, and is today a partner in the Te Akau operation, still holds a number of New Zealand training records:

  • When he won his first NZ Trainers' Premiership, he was the youngest trainer ever to do so.

  • Before relocating to establish Te Akau's Singapore stable in 2010, he set a New Zealand record for the highest number of two-year-old wins in a season (23) with 16 individual two-year-olds - this record stands today.

  • In 2010 he established a new record for wins in a season, beating the previous 17-year record.

  • New Zealand has only staged two $2 million races - he trained the winner (Princess Coup) of both.

  • He trained many elite Group 1 winning racehorses including King's Chapel, Maroofity, Darci Brahma, Distinctly Secret and Princess Coup - the latter still holding the New Zealand record for domestic prizemoney won.


David Ellis continued: “Mark Walker is an outstanding trainer who has been working with me since he was 18.  He must be one of the only trainers in the world to win nine Trainers' Premierships across two countries. He is an exceptional training talent, one of the finest horsemen you will ever find, and with Mark back at the helm, you can be assured that Te Akau will continue to play a major role in the industry. We have big plans.”


The news of Mark Walker returning to New Zealand and Jamie Richards taking up an invitation to train in Hong Kong has been applauded by the industry:


Cambridge Stud's Brendan Lindsay MNZM said:

“The news of Jamie being offered a position in Hong Kong comes as no surprise to those of us who have been closely involved at Te Akau. Outside the success he has brought to Cambridge Stud, his results have been spectacular, and he was certain to be on their radar as a special talent. While Hong Kong remains a challenging environment for any trainer, Jamie is well up to it and we support him and his move there and wish him every success.”

Cambridge Stud CEO Henry Plumptre added:

“We are very pleased that Jamie will be replaced at Te Akau by his old mentor, Mark Walker. Mark was a champion trainer in his own right for Te Akau and has continued that success with a stellar career in Singapore. No-one knows the Te Akau system better than him and we are looking forward to working with him. I have enormous respect for him both as a person and a trainer. He will be a huge asset back in New Zealand.”

Sir Peter Vela, owner of New Zealand Bloodstock:

“It's great to hear that New Zealand Champion Trainer Mark Walker, having left New Zealand to establish the operation in Singapore, is returning home to the Te Akau team, he will be a wonderful addition to the New Zealand training ranks.”

Te Akau Racing will continue to have a significant presence in Singapore, with Donna Logan now part of the team.  Te Akau and Fortuna horses at Kranji will come under the care of the respected New Zealand and Singapore Group 1 winning trainer - “I am so looking forward to training the beautiful new bloodstock I have been entrusted with”.

It is expected that Jamie Richards will relocate to Hong Kong in May 2022 to prepare for the new season, with Mark Walker returning to New Zealand early in 2022.


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