New NZ Record for Season Wins - 161

Date: 8 Apr 2023

New NZ Record for Season Wins - 161


Te Akau trainer Mark Walker set a national record for wins in a season when Fellini (3 g Belardo - Silke Top, by Librettist) won the $30,000 3YO 1400 metres on Saturday at Pukekohe.

It was the third time Walker had achieved such a feat. He set a new benchmark of 108 wins in the 2009/10 season, eclipsing the previous seventeen-year-old record by D J O'Sullivan, while also securing his fifth Trainers' Premiership title.

Walker then transferred to train for Te Akau in Singapore, where he was named Champion Trainer on four occasions, including a record 87 wins in 2017.

Getting to 161 wins already this season, of which 31 are stakes' victories, including five at Group One level, Walker has surpassed the domestic record (160) set by previous Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards in 2020/21.

A stakes' performer with genuine attributes and course winner at his only attempt, Fellini had run the fastest last 600m (34.4) with a strong finish from last in the 3YO 1400 metres on 25 March at Tauranga, and rated a top three chance. 

Although carrying top weight (58.5kg), barrier two ensured an economical trip and once Champion Te Akau apprentice Joe Kamaruddin extracted him from the trail with 200m to run, he extended resolutely to score his fourth victory from 12 starts for the Te Akau Fine Fashion Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).

In the race sponsored by NZB Online Yearling Sale on Gavelhouse Plus, given footing upgraded to Good4 after race three, Fellini ran 1400 metres in 1:23.7 and paid $6.30 & $2.20 on the NZ TAB tote. 

“He's not a big horse, so it was a good effort to win under the top weight and he's been a consistent horse throughout his whole career,” said Walker, of the horse that finished third to stable-mate Dynastic (Almanzor) in the 2022 Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m).

“It was a lovely ride by Joe, who is in very good form, and the horse really deserved another win. He's very athletic and is a horse that keeps finding the line.”

Fellini began his three-year-old season with a fresh-up win over 1100 metres in August at Taupo, before finishing fourth to Dynastic in the El Roca - Sir Colin Meads Trophy (Listed, 1200m). 

From a talented international family, Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM bought Fellini for $40,000 from breeders Valachi Downs at the 2021 Karaka Book 1 Sale. A year earlier at Karaka, his half-brother Chancellor (Vadamos - Silke Top) sold for $185,000. 

Grand-dam Zaza Top (Lomitas) was Second Top filly in the German 2YO Handicaps and continued at stud, having already left Champion 3YO in Germany Zazou (Shamardal), and Zoe Dream (Galileo), winner of seven from 2300m to 4050m in France. She has also left Group Two placed Za Za Gabor (O'Reilly) in New Zealand, a half-sister to Silke Top. 

In just his 14th season training in New Zealand, Walker won five Trainers' Premierships between 1997 and 2010 during his first stint for Te Akau.  He added four Champion Trainer titles during 10 years training for Te Akau in Singapore, before commencing again on 1 April last year from where it all began at Matamata.

It has been a season of milestones for Walker, who achieved his 100th domestic stakes' success when Aromatic (Sacred Falls) won the Counties Cup (Gr. 2, 2100m) in November; he notched the fastest 100 wins in a season when Pure Imagination (Darci Brahma) won on 13 January at Tauranga, breaking the previous record set by Richards on 28 January 2021, and he ecorded his 1000th domestic win when subsequent Matamata Breeders' Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) winner Zourion (Zoustar) scored on debut in the 2YO 1100 metres on 7 February at Taupo.

“For Mark (Walker) to have broken the all-time record with nearly a quarter of the season remaining is an incredible achievement,” Ellis said

“There have been some wonderful trainers that have established and broken records in New Zealand racing, trainers that are simply world-class, and for Mark to break records so early in his career is testament to his horsemanship and dedication to training horses.

“He did it in 2009/10 to break Dave & Paul O'Sullivan's record (with 108 wins), but to do it again on his way to a 10th training premiership title is remarkable. 

“It's a great tribute to all the team at Te Akau, who have done such a wonderful job, working tirelessly and showing such a great passion for what they do.

“Mark started training for Te Akau when he was 24 years old. He's humble, a great boss to his staff, and has done such an excellent job for Te Akau in both New Zealand and Singapore.

“The owners have been patient with Fellini, so credit to them in getting another win. He hasn't grown into a big horse, but he's certainly a horse with a big heart and a lot of ability. 

“Easter Saturday is always an exciting day's racing for me because I won my first Group One race on this day 37 years ago when Cosmetique won the Easter Handicap in 1986 at Ellerslie, so to break the all-time training record on the same day is a big thrill.

“I'm lucky to be doing something I love with some of my family involved. We're are selling the final shares in yearlings bought earlier in the year and they are still very popular. We've only got 5% left in the Harry Angel colt, and another one of his progeny won today in Sydney.

“Very seldom does a day go by when we don't sell shares, and achieving record-breaking results like this shows that the stable is really on fire and delivering results for our owners.”

Fellini was strapped by Katija Cherie. 


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