There's Magic In The Air!

Date: 8 Jan 2024

Te Akau Racing is ready to fire some serious buying shots during the Magic Millions’ Sale on the Gold Coast that starts tomorrow, Tuesday!

The ‘brains’ trust’ of David Ellis CNZM, Mark Walker, Marcus Corban, Te Akau Australia assistant trainer Ben Gleeson and racing manager Reece Trumper, has been busy preparing for this week is its usual detailed and in depth fashion - with our core team completing on-farm inspections of yearlings in December.

The ‘long list’ was compiled, and now following further physical inspections and deep pedigree analysis, the ‘short list’ has been refined, with a budget in place for each horse Te Akau is looking to buy.

This proven method has seen David Ellis as leading buyer for 18 consecutive years at the Karaka sales, while his success also runs deep with purchases in Australia.

In fact, TDN (Thoroughbred Daily News, Australia & NZ) published an independent analyst report in 2023 on who the best thoroughbred judge was in Australasia (based on Group/Listed wins) and this is what it found – Te Akau’s David Ellis came out on top globally:

David Ellis (Te Akau) — 17.02% stakes’ winners to purchases

On raw numbers, founder and principal of Te Akau Racing in New Zealand — David Ellis — performed as the top purchaser of yearlings globally on our buyer dataset between 2015–2021. We identified 188 yearling purchases, and with a stakes’ return of 32 winners (17.02%)

In 2020, Ellis purchased both Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) and Sword Of State (Snitzel) from this sale.

The latter won four of five starts, including the Sistema Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m), before being named Champion Two-Year-Old, and now stands at Cambridge Stud, where his first foals are drawing praise.

Stable headline act and Champion Three-Year-Old and Champion Sprinter/Miler Imperatriz recorded her eighth Group One victory in the A$3 million Darley Champions Sprint (Gr. 1, 1200m) during Melbourne Cup week at Flemington.

Imperatriz has now won 17 of her 23 starts and over NZ$5.3 million in prize money. In 2023 she won more Group 1 titles (6) than any other horse in the world!

The champion mare, hailed as the best sprinter in the world, matched Te Akau horses Probabeel (Savabeel), a dual Horse of the Year that also recorded four Group One wins in Australia, while she is closing in on nine Group One wins by Avantage (Fastnet Rock) and 14 by national record-holder Melody Belle (Commands), another dual Horse of the Year for the stable.

All of these elite winners were purchased by Ellis.

His buying eye continued to be underlined with the winner of the Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (Gr. 1, 2050m) on Boxing Day at Pukekohe - Campionessa (Contributer) was purchased by Ellis for A$60,000 at Magic Millions, and her 27 starts have yielded 10 wins, five seconds, three thirds, and $936,590 in prize money.

Most notably in recent times, the formation of the Te Akau 2023 Stallion Breeding Syndicate and Te Akau 2023 Magic Fillies’ Breeding Syndicate, both managed by Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM, have each met with great success.

The two colts that Ellis bought at the 2023 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, Move To Strike (2 c I Am Invincible – No Evidence Needed, by Shamardal) and Unbridled Joy (2 c Snitzel – Joy Forever, by High Chaparral) have begun their racing careers in style.

Move To Strike was very impressive when winning on debut at Te Rapa, before being beaten narrowly on off-ground not to his liking in the Eclipse Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) on 1 January at Pukekohe.

While Unbridled Joy finished strongly on debut for second to stable-mate When Stars Align (Zoustar) on 23 December at Trentham. Both have a very bright future.
Likewise the two fillies purchased by Ellis for the 2023 syndicate - they are unbeaten in three starts to date.

The Fillies’ Syndicate started with a bang when Captured By Love (2 f Written Tycoon – Moldova, by Snitzel) won on debut, before racing clear to win by three lengths in the Wakefield Challenge Stakes (Gr. 2, 1100m) at Trentham.

And beautifully relaxed filly The Victress (2 f Zousain – Liesele, by Exceed and Excel) showed her class with a winning debut on 3 January at Te Aroha.

It’s a long and proud history of Te Akau buying success!

In 2005, Ellis purchased Princess Coup (Encosta de Lago) for A$260,000 at Magic Millions, and the four-time Group One winner still holds the record for domestic stakes’ earnings ($3.1 million – $4.1 total). She was named Champion 3YO, NZB Filly of the Year, Champion Middle Distance Performer (twice) and Champion Stayer, before selling as a broodmare for A$3 million in Australia.

Similarly, Ellis bought Group One performer Integrate (Integra) from the Gold Coast, costing $11,000 . A multiple Group 2 and Group 3 winner, on both sides of the Tasman, she was remarkably Group 1 runner up on eight separate occasions. She won almost $700,000, before being sold for a large sum to Japan.

Further success came with 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) winner Tell A Tale (Tale Of The Cat) and 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) winner and NZB Filly of the Year Costa Viva (Encosta de Lago) were both purchased by Ellis as graduates of Gold Coast Yearling Sales – the latter subsequently selling as a broodmare for A$400,000 in Australia.

Also at Magic Millions, Ellis purchased Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) winner and Group One placed Gold Fever (Savabeel); Spring Classic (Listed, 2000m) winner Swing Note (Encosta de Lago); Wellington Guineas (Gr. 2, 1400m) winner Cognito (So You Think); Welcome Stakes (Listed, 1000m) winner Sky On Fire (Exceed and Excel), and impressive recent winner Dream Of The Moon (All Too Hard), who placed in the Wakefield Challenge Stakes (Gr. 2, 1100m).

Recently, from the new Te Akau Australia training base at Cranbourne, prepared dual stakes' placed Rubicon Crossing (Rubick) for a smart fresh-up win over 1000 metres.

Although not a stakes’ performer as yet, Hero Worship (Xtravagant), whom Ellis purchased at the Gold Coast, by the dual Group One winning stallion he bought as a yearling, kept improving throughout last season to win four races and capped the New Zealand record as the 203rd winner in July at Te Rapa.

The Te Akau buying team is ready for action, having done all its homework, study and inspections - aiming to buy the best horses on offer, for our new and existing owners, at the right prices.

It is more than fair to say that the performance record of yearlings purchased by Ellis on the Gold Coast is outstanding!

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