Te Akau Salutes Gus & Karen Clutterbuck

Date: 1 Jan 2021

Te Akau Salutes Gus & Karen Clutterbuck

Te Akau Singapore assistant trainer Gus Clutterbuck and his wife Karen are retiring, and returning to live in New Zealand.

A former top jockey, with over 400 wins, and successful trainer in New Zealand, Clutterbuck joined Te Akau to run Te Akau's South Island stable at Belmont Lodge, Rangiora before heading off with Mark Walker to set up stables in 2010 at Kranji racecourse. A renowned kind horseman, he particularly enjoys seeing the rise of young jockeys and people in the industry.

Riding Master Noel Harris once recalled he employed the same crooning trick he first noticed Clutterbuck doing.

“If you start talking and singing to them (horses) it's amazing how much they'll relax, even the fiery ones,” he said. “And if you pat them and talk to them in the barriers they'll jump out and relax in the run too.”

“We've been with Te Akau for 18 years and did a stint down South at Rangiora,” Clutterbuck said. “It was good for South Island racing and strengthened the racing there and it's never looked back, really. We took some future champion horses down there and South Island racing has continued to get stronger.

“We're going back to Rangiora, because Karen's mum is still there, and we'll find something around there. We're looking forward to a break and following Te Akau and going up to see Jamie (Richards) and see the horses at Matamata.

“It's all worked out well in Singapore, apart from Covid. It has been a beautiful place to be and so safe. We don't even lock the door. It's a wonderful country.

“Mark (Walker) has been really good to work for. Really professional and I don't think we've ever had a blue with Mark or Dave (Ellis). 

“The horses don't have to be worked as hard in Singapore, with the hot weather, and the main thing is that they acclimatize. I'd gained some knowledge about it when selling horses to the great trainer in Singapore, Teh Choon Beng, and that helped me too.

“We've won three premierships up here, after winning five beforehand in New Zealand, and we've always been around the top of the premiership each year.  

“We've enjoyed our time here and been very lucky and everyone has been very accommodating and friendly. 


“We've had a lot of good jockeys here, too. Guys like Corey Brown, Glen Boss, Michael Rodd, and Gerald Mosse. It was great to meet those guys and get to know them and their families. 

“I've really enjoyed the times when our apprentice riders have been going really well. Shafiq Rusof was twice Champion Apprentice for us and the young fella now, Hakim (Aiman Kamaruddin), is coming through the grades. 

“We've had a lot of nice horses and won good races. I like them all, whether they're fast or slow, and always just treated them all the same. They've all got their own character.

“Flying Fulton (Flying Spur), a horse that Dave bought, was the Polytrack Horse of the Year. He'd won a stakes' race at two in New Zealand and then another one at Wanganui, Chris Johnson rode him, and he came up here and won $1.2m. He relaxed, enjoyed it here and kept getting better.”

Once home, Clutterbuck is also looking forward to catching up Te Akau staff members Paul Richards (father of Jamie) and Tracy Collis.

Richards, who won 1073 races, including 44 stakes wins, has a close association. He rode for Pat Corboy, the father of Karen Clutterbuck, and famous for training Grey Way to win 51 races from Washdyke, Timaru. Richards was born in Waimate, apprenticed to Rex Cochrane, Gore, and became stable rider for Brian Anderton at White Robe Lodge, Mosgiel, while Clutterbuck was born in Mosgiel.

Te Akau stable foreman Tracy Collis was apprenticed to Clutterbuck and started her riding career in 1997 with a win aboard Wake Forest (Cache of Gold), who was trained by Clutterbuck to win the 1999 New Zealand Cup (Gr. 2, 3200m), ridden by Noel Harris. Collis had 85 wins as a jockey and trained 18 winners with a small team at Awapuni. 

“Paul was a really good jockey and Tracy spent five years with us, so I'm looking forward to catching up with them,” he said. “They're both very good workers and conscientious and Te Akau are lucky to have people like them. 

“I gave Paul his last winning ride on a mare we trained for Waikato Stud called Heads Or Tales (Tale of the Cat), at Riccarton . After the race, he got off the horse, shook my hand, and said: “That's it, I'm going to retire”. There was no fuss, and that was that.”

During his time training for Te Akau at Rangiora, Clutterbuck had a bevy of champions under his care during major racing carnivals: Champion 3YO, Champion Sprinter/Miler, and Horse of the Year King's Chapel (King of Kings), Champion 2YO Maroofity (Maroof), Champion 2YO & 3YO, Champion Sprinter/Miler, and Champion Stallion Darci Brahma (Danehill), NZB Filly of the Year Shikoba (Chief Bearhart), Champion 3YO, NZB Filly of the Year, Champion Middle Distance, and Champion Stayer Princess Coup (Encosta De Lago), and NZB Filly of the Year King's Rose (Redoute's Choice).

For trainer Mark Walker, having someone with the horsemanship of Clutterbuck provided terrific reassurance that the horses were in good hands and their relationship has continued to 18 years.

“Obviously, Gus and Karen have been a huge part of the operation and Gus was a great trainer in his own right,” he said. “They came up here from day one when we established the Singapore base, and I've been very fortunate to have them both to work with.


“It's been a remarkable time together and it's a bit sad that it's all coming to an end. And, I suppose, when you look back at it, 18 years has gone very quickly. But not everything can go forever. 

“They've been invaluable to the success. To have won eight premierships together is pretty special and Gus and Karen have been a massive part of that, whether it was in New Zealand or Singapore. 

“We've never had a argument and I think that shows the respect we have for each other, and it certainly wasn't easy starting here from ground zero and building it up. There is added pressure because the betting is so important in Asia, but that also adds to the adrenaline rush too.

“Karen does all the office accounts and when we had the Village Stable here she used to run a little stable down there, and it was the amazing the amount of horses you'd put in her section and the extra love and attention turned some of their careers around in the latter stages of their life. 

“Gus has been a terrific sounding board over the years, as well. Even when I was training at Matamata I used to ring Gus about a horse I was having a problem with and have a chat to him about it. You just can't beat experience in this game.” 

We salute Gus and Karen for their loyalty and their amazing friendship - it is a relationship that has been rockfish and solid for over 20 years and will continue!



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