Walker On Track for Record Breaking Season

Date: 3 Nov 2022

Walker On Track for Record Breaking Season


Nine-time Champion trainer Mark Walker is slightly ahead of the record-breaking season achieved by Te Akau Racing in 2020/21.

When then-Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards eclipsed the previous record to establish a new benchmark of 160 domestic wins, he had 46 victories by the end of October while Walker currently has 54.

Either way, both still represent an abundance of winners in the first quarter of the season.

After a decade of training for Te Akau in Singapore, where he won Champion Trainer honours four times, Walker returned to take up the reins again on 1 April while Richards was preparing to train in Hong Kong.

Walker first trained for Te Akau from 1997 to 2010, preparing 858 winners including 88 stakes' wins and kicked off again by winning the Sires' Produce Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m) with subsequent Champion Two-Year-Old Maven Belle (Burgundy) and the Manawatu Classic (Gr. 3, 2000m) with Amalfi Prince (Sebring) on his first day back at the helm.

Since 1 April he has trained 79 winners, including nine stakes' wins.

Walker has 20 horses currently stabled at Riccarton, and will be well represented there on Saturday including nine starters in stakes' races.



In the $550,000 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai 50thNew Zealand 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m), a race Te Akau has won seven times, including last year with now Waikato Stud stallion Noverre (Savabeel) pictured above, Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) winner Dynastic (Almanzor) heads the list for Walker, along with Cognito (So You Think) and Malborough Bay (Darci Brahma).

“Dynastic (below), the wheels fell off at Matamata, but I think they were back on Te Rapa, and I reckon he'll like the mile at Riccarton,” he said.

“He's drawn out a bit, but probably not too much of a disadvantage because he likes running on the outside down the straight. So he's going to eat up the mile and he's a definite chance.



“Cognito has had a perfect prep and probably should have won last start, but just got too far back. Jason (Laking) would have learnt from that and he's got a better draw this time.

“Malborough Bay has had a lovely preparation but probably has to find a couple of lengths to be a top three chance.”

In the $80,000 Donaldson Brown Pegasus Stakes (Listed, 1000m), Walker saddles three sprinters: Burgundy Rose (Burgundy), Challa (Dissident), and Aris Aris (Contributer).



“Burgundy Rose (above) is in career best form, but she's getting up in the weights now which her only problem,” he said. “She's tiny and the old saying: weight can stop a train. But she's in fantastic form.

“Challa is racing really well and going for a hat-trick of wins, and Aris Aris is trying to get some valuable black type, comes off a last start win and deserves her chance.”

Walker also has three in the $100,000 Nautical Boat Insurance Metropolitan Trophy (Listed, 2500m): Campionessa (Contributer), Leaderboard (Street Cry), and Belle of the Ball (Savabeel).

“Campionessa (below) is in really good form, 2500m she should get on her pedigree and she has to be a good chance,” he said.



“Leaderboard is having his final tune up for the New Zealand Cup, which he finished third in last year, but I wouldn't want to play cards with him the way he's going at the moment.

“Belle of the Ball looks as though she will eat up the distance as well, so she's a definite chance with the light weight.”

Reflecting on the season to date, Walker said: “I'd be happier if the Group placed seconds had turned into winners, but that's racing.

“Otherwise we often have to send out multiple runners in some races, but that's just the way it is. Sometimes you can have bad luck and good luck in a race, and with more than one in a race hopefully you can have good luck with one of them.”

Te Akau is also preparing for the upcoming New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale on 16 & 17 November at Karaka.

“I'm currently doing work on the Breeze-ups and Dave (Ellis) is doing the pedigrees,” Walker said. “We'll establish a shortlist, meet up and work it out with the vets etc.



“Much of the buying depends on how strong the market is and whether or not we can buy horses for what we're prepared to pay. There are always plenty of variables to factor in the sales, but we'll certainly be trying.”

The RTR Sales have provided Te Akau and their owners with some terrific winners in the past, including Group One winners Gingernuts (Iffraaj), Hall of Fame (Savabeel), Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle), along with stakes winners Flying Fulton (Champion Singapore Polytrack Horse of the Year), Amalfi Prince (Sebring), Brando (Savabeel), Star of Bombay (Atlante), Royal Success (Savabeel), and other multiple winners Burgundy Rose (Burgundy), Ragamuffin (Belardo), Shezathinka (So You Think), and Phantom Witness (Star Witness), to name a few.


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