David Ellis CNZM
David Ellis, Principal of Te Akau Stud, is acknowledged as one of New Zealand’s most successful and astute race horse buyers, breeders, owners and bloodstock consultant.
David is a renowned judge of bloodstock and this expertise has seen the Te Akau operation become one of the most dominant influences in the New Zealand thoroughbred racing world. He led in his first winner back to the winners’ circles more than 35 years ago and notched his first Group One winner, Easter Handicap winner Cosmetique, in 1986. Ever since that time, there has been a remarkable stream of Group One winners in David Ellis’ Te Akau tangerine and navy colours.
Such success has grown from David’s unreserved passion for racing and his desire to be the best and make racing accessible. During the 1990’s and into the new millennium he established himself as a leading buyer of bloodstock in Australasia. Horses that David has purchased have won well over 125 stakes’ races.
For the past 15 years he has been the most dominant New Zealand buyer at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales at Karaka. In that time, David has outlaid over $100 million at Karaka making his commitment a serious influence. This is a huge investment and belief in the New Zealand industry and presents an incredible opportunity for everyone not only to enjoy racehorse ownership but also to see top quality horses trained and retained in New Zealand.
David has purchased champion horses that have been crowned with 30 Champion titles in their year – Maroofity, Warhorse, Darci Brahma, Melody Belle, Avantage and War Affair (Champion 2YOs in NZ and Singapore respectively), Xtravagant (Champion 3YO), King’s Chapel (NZ Champion 3YO, Champion Sprinter/Miler and Horse of the Year), Flying Fulton (Champion Singapore Polytrack Horse of the Year), Te Akau Nick (NSW Australia Stayer of the Year), Princess Coup (NZ Champion 3YO, Champion Middle Distance Horse (2), Champion Stayer, NZB Filly of the Year), Costa Viva (NZB Filly of the Year) and Darci Brahma (Champion 2YO, Champion 3YO, Champion Sprinter/Miler) – just to name some.
In 2004 David purchased subsequent five time Group One winner Darci Brahma (Danehill x Grand Echezeaux) who was sold to stud for $10 million and today Te Akau purchased and trained stallions at stud include Embellish, Xtravagant, Heroic Valour and until his tragic death early in 2020, Burgundy.
David has a very good eye for a horse which is shown by this proven record of selecting high-class racehorses. He has introduced many people from all walks to life to the excitement of horse racing through syndication with spectacular results.
New Zealand Horse Of The Year King’s Chapel cost $35,000 as a yearling, was syndicated among seven owners and went on to win just under $1 million on the racetrack before being sold to stud for seven-figure sum. He was a Champion two and three year old, as well as being named Champion Sprinter Miler the year he became NZ Horse of the year. Maroofity cost $46,000 as a yearling and turned out to be New Zealand’s champion two-year-old of his year winning about $500,000 and 10 races. Darci Brahma is the only horse to have been named Champion 2YO who trained on to also be named Champion 3YO (topping the age classification and free handicaps) as well as Champion Sprinter/Miler as a 4YO. He won Group 1 races and two, three and four.
Eyecatching grey Hamlet’s Ghost (Danasinga/Principation) was another astute Ellis purchased for $55,000. He won six from six and was sold to Hong Kong for a significant figure and was runner up in the Group 1 Hong Kong Derby.
Ellis’ eye was also responsible for the purchase of Princess Coup. No New Zealand horse has won more in domestic stakes than this mare ($4.1 million) and she was named Champion 3YO, NZB Filly of the Year, Champion Middle Distance Performer (twice) and Champion Stayer. She was purchased by David id Ellis for A$240,000 and sold as a broodmare for A$3 million. She was purchased from the Gold Coast sale as was Integrate who cost $11,000 and won almost $700,000 before being sold for a major sum to Japan. That same sale saw David buy Group 1 winner Tell a Tale and Group 1 placegetter/Listed winner Minstrel Court within an hour of each other.
David has also made a significant voluntary contribution to New Zealand’s thoroughbred industry – he is a Life Member and a former Chairman of the Waikato Racing Club and served as Northern Director on the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Board for many years. He also was a Board member of New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing.
Under David’s leadership, Te Akau was named Gallagher Agriculture and Primary Production award winner at the 2009/10 Waikato Business Excellence Awards. Te Akau was also a finalist in the Excellence in Service Award and David himself was a finalist in the prestigious Waikato Management School Leader of the Year award.
David received New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s “Outstanding Contribution to Racing Excellence” in 2017 and in 2020, he was appointed as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Royal Honours.
David is married to broadcaster Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM. Karyn was Trackside television’s inaugural presenter with George Simon in 1992 and remained a Trackside presenter for 26 years. She is also a past World President of Junior Chamber International (Jaycees) and is currently Chairman of the Waikato Racing Club.
David and Karyn reside with their three dogs at Te Akau Stud. Between them they have five adult children.