Michael's Midas Touch

Date: 4 Dec 2023

Michael's Midas Touch

Retired farmer, share market investor, and horse owner, Michael Ormsby has enjoyed the Midas touch in all three fields.

The Hawkes Bay farmer retired last year aged 81 and among other things says that his interests in horses always has him looking forward and keeps him alive.

Ormsby takes a smaller share in each Te Akau horse that he buys, and has recorded an impressive 32 wins this year - he has also done well from his portion of $6.5 million worth of traded horses too.

“The value horses I’ve owned that have sold through Te Akau, mostly fillies, has been $6.5 million and with my percentage, I’ve turned that sum into a racing business, and I now only invest in the top bred fillies that David (Ellis) buys, but I have some criteria,” Ormsby said.

“They’re (fillies) the ones, that if they start showing potential then they’re worth money. I’ve got shares in three geldings, but all the rest are females.

“We had two wins on the middle day of Cup Week at Riccarton, Dream Of The Moon (All Too Hard) and Fashion Shoot (Savabeel), who won the Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 3, 1400m), and the following  Sunday Captured By Love (Written Tycoon) won at Wairarapa.

“I’m a great fan of Savabeel and have quite a few Savabeel fillies, then when David starting buying fillies at Magic Millions (Gold Coast) I went into them.

“I believe the performance of a horse is 70 percent determined by its mother. I’ve studied racing pedigrees for about 30 years and I was told back in the 1960s to focus on the dam and their bloodlines.

“When I started racing horses in 1996, my mate and I would go to Karaka and try to pick horses with Sir Tristram on the dam side, because he was the most potent blood in New Zealand. But we couldn’t afford them, so we bought some horses by Sir Tristram, on the stallion side, and won five Grand Nationals with them as jumpers.

“But then I started with Te Akau, and it's been wonderful. For me to buy a filly it’s got to have one of three stallions on the dam side. If it hasn’t got one of those three then I don’t look at it. It’s my secret as to what they are, but it’s easiest to say that they are all champion or highly proven broodmare sires.

“I also take what I call a punt horse each year and the one that really stood out for me was Need I Say More (No Nay Never). He was a big chestnut horse and Te Akau has had a lot of success with the ginger horses like Te Akau Nick and Gingernuts and Te Akau Shark. 

“Although I’d never heard of his sire, on his dam side his mother was by Fastnet Rock (Danehill) and that’s what appealed to me. So they must have thought a bit of the mother to breed to Fastnet.

“He won six stakes' races, Need I Say More, and he was sold for a very good return on my investment to Hong Kong.

“I was in Avantage (Fastnet Rock), who won nine Group Ones and was sold as a broodmare for huge money (a global online record for a broodmare - $4.1 million), Entriviere (Tavistock) made $900,000, and we’ve sold a couple lately for $400,000 and $380,000, and $150,000. It all adds up.

“I enjoy the challenge of determining which horses I want to be involved in. I’ve been aware that Ellerslie Racecourse will return and race for increased stakes, and Australia is the richest racing county I the world and Te Akau has a base there now, so I thought let’s be part of it.

“To be honest, I think I’ve been very lucky, and I try and spread the word about Te Akau and being involved with them.

“But you have to appreciate that everybody looks at situations differently. I’ve been lucky that I’ve worked out my way, but others go down their paths and may do the right or wrong things. Some have been disappointed, but, as I say, everyone thinks differently.

“In whatever I’ve done, I’ve always wanted to go to the top of the tree and Te Akau is the tops. They are a tremendous firm to deal with and I cannot fault them at all. That’s what I want in life. I’ve always wanted the best and I’ve got the best – their communication, everything they do is what I want.

“I’m not in it to make money, but I am making money. I’ve got money left over and we’re still selling horses and getting involved in new ones too.

“I’m a farmer, was farming for sixty years, and I know all about animals and their injuries. And I accept fully what can happen to racehorses.

“We’ve got all this racing coming up over Christmas and New Year, but I’m retired now so I’ll take the time to watch it.

“I believe interests like this are what keeps one alive and I’ve got no intentions of dying because I’ve got too many horses to watch. It’s been great fun and I’ve had some success.

“Interestingly, the first two horses I went into with Te Akau didn't measure up so they retired them from the stable. But the next two I got involved in were Avantage and Irish Cream. Obviously we all know what Avantage achieved, but Irish Cream she won her only race by lengths and then got bone chips in her knee, and she sold for a great price on Gavelhouse.

“We were offered $750,000 for Avantage after she’d won twice as a two-year-old and I said to David (Ellis) I don’t want to sell but I’ll go along with the majority. Thankfully she was retained and won over two million and sold for more.”

Ormsby was also involved in racing administration with his local Waipukurau Jockey Club, serving on the committee for 22 years and as treasurer for 18 years.

“I saw the writing on the wall, with track closures, and got out,” he said. “The club had a lot of money when I finished.

“While it’s great for smaller communities to have their race meetings and be served by a local track, the logistical costs for the satellite truck etc, to broadcast it and all those things, are astronomical. 

In summary, Ormsby said: “I like efficiency and that’s why I like Te Akau. If you want to know what your horses are doing, you go to Te Akau.

“Horses can’t run if they’re hurting and the trainers do their best at sorting out the issues and getting them right.

“And a lot of the New Zealand-bred horses need a bit of time. Look at Fashion Shoot (Savabeel) winning the Breeders’ Stakes at Riccarton. She’s a six-year-old and racing at the peak of her game.

“Campionessa (Contributer), I’m in her and she’s been great at five and now six she’s firing on all cylinders.  

Michael's 32nd win came up in fine style when Campionessa won the $225,000 Dunstan Horse Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) in late November at Pukekohe.

Purchased by David Ellis for $60,000, her 25 starts have yielded eight wins, five seconds, three thirds, and $577,215 in prize money. 

“I reckon if they’re good horses that they’ll show out just as well at five and six as they will as three-year-olds. 

“You’ll see a lot of horses that race well as three-year-olds might have a pretty quiet year at four when they start racing against older horses, and then they’re away again at five and six. Avantage and Melody Belle, two of Te Akau’s best, were in that boat.

“I’m also in Romancing The Moon (El Roca), who had 11 races as a three-year-old, including a Group One, and she’s just taking her time coming back to it.”

Ormsby also enjoyed NZ Cup Carnival success when Perfect Scenario (Iffraaj) won fresh-up in the $75,000 Wuhan Jockey Club Open Handicap 1400 metres on New Zealand Cup Day at Riccarton.

A man who, with his wife Helen, loves his racing, and we love winning races for Michael - long may it continue!


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