Te Akau Takes Proactive Measures

Date: 27 Mar 2020

Te Akau Takes Proactive Measures

NZ Racing News reports:

Te Akau Racing, one of New Zealand's largest racing operations, has elected to turnout nearly its entire racing team as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Matamata-based operation will only continue with a skeleton staff to handle
their younger stock, while the majority of their team has headed to Te Akau
principal David Ellis' 4000 acre farm, Te Akau Stud, to spell.

Ellis said
Te Akau had already established measures to protect their staff before the
country moved to Covid-19 alert level 4 at 11:59pm on Wednesday.

“We have
been making sure all staff keep at least 2 metres away from each other at all
times. We have split the team at the farm in two halves so that there is no
more than five working in any one section.

“We have
brought most of the horses home to spell at Te Akau Stud. We will only have a
limited number of horses at Matamata and a few yearlings that are in the
breaking-in and education phase.”

Ellis has elected to take a cautious approach, spelling the majority of Te Akau's race team.

“Te Akau is
trying to show responsibility,” he said. “We have told all of our staff that
they have still got jobs. Some are having holidays, some have relocated to Te
Akau Stud to help with all the horses that are spelling.

“Most of
our horses go out for a spell in the next month anyway. After a month we will
be into the period where the tracks are heavy and Te Akau doesn't race much
then anyway.

“We hope
that the lockdown is only for four weeks. Even if it is eight weeks, we will be
raring to go as soon as it is all over.”

While it
may be longer than the initial four week lockdown period announced by New
Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern before racing commences, Ellis said the
industry could take some creative approaches to allow for a quicker return to

“We will be
doing everything we can to help the racing industry get back on its feet as
soon as possible,” Ellis said.

“It might
well mean instead of having trials we have 600m and 800m races to get the
horses fit.

“I am
really confident that everyone will work together and RITA (Racing Industry
Transition Agency) and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing will continue to keep us

attention has now turned to his 4000 acre sheep and beef farm, Te Akau Stud.

has been the backbone of the New Zealand economy for many years and Ellis
believes farmers and the agricultural industry will be vital in bringing the
country out of an inevitable recession.

country is going to be desperate for the farmers to get us out of this
financial mess,” he said.

associated with the farm is deemed essential. We need to keep producing to a
high level. We can still apply fertiliser and continue to have our good staff
available to run the farms.

“I think
the economy will be driven out of a recession through agriculture.”

back on a standout season for Te Akau, Ellis said he is proud of the
operation's international success, led by New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards
and Singapore trainer Mark Walker.

“We have
had an absolutely unbelievable season,” Ellis said. “To have a mare like
Avantage win Group One races at 1200m, 1400m, 1600m, and 2000m is just a
remarkable effort from Jamie and all the team at Matamata.

“We have
won seven Group One races already this year, 11 Group Ones this season, and 20
black-type races - 17 in New Zealand and three in Australia.

“These sort
of statistics don't get achieved very often in New Zealand.

“I am
incredibly proud of the entire team here at Te Akau Stud and Te Akau Racing,
and Te Akau Singapore, with Mark leading the trainers' premiership there as

While their
New Zealand racing team have been spelled, Te Akau is still pressing on with
the autumn preparations of three of their runners in Sydney.

Richards' father Paul, along with Ashley Handley, have stayed on in Australia
to oversee the autumn campaigns of Te Akau Shark, Melody Belle, and Probabeel.

Richards and Ashely Handley, who is an absolutely outstanding young lady who
has done a remarkable job for us, are staying over in Sydney along with our
stable jockey Opie Bosson,” Ellis said.

“We have
had a good chat and if they are going to continue racing (in Sydney) we want
our horses to race.”

Sydney racing has been temporarily suspended because of a Covid-19 scare, there
remains a chance that Probabeel may run in the Gr.1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m)
at Rosehill on Saturday.

If racing were to proceed, she would continue her high-profile duel with the Chris Waller-trained Funstar.

Probabeel got the better of her rival first-up when winning the Gr.1 Surround Stakes (1400m), while Funstar turned the tables last start when winning the Gr.2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m).

will jump from barrier six with Kerrin McEvoy set to ride, while Funstar will
jump from gate eight, with expat New Zealand jockey James McDonald aboard.

“They (Paul
and Ashley) are really happy with her and they are expecting she is going to go
well over the 2000m,” Ellis said.

Ellis is
also hoping Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle will get their chance to continue on
towards their respective targets.

“The Queen
Elizabeth (Gr.1, 2000m) will really suit Te Akau Shark and we are pretty
excited about Melody Belle in the Doncaster (Gr.1, 1600m),” he said.

Ellis is hopeful of a swift recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and
said people have still been interested in purchasing shares in

“Just yesterday (Wednesday) morning we sold two shares,” Ellis said.
“We are really looking forward to getting back to normal and getting
racing going again.”


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