Success breeds more big race victories for Te Akau
TE AKAU founder David Ellis is preparing to launch an unprecedented raid on some of Australia’s biggest Group 1 features in 2019 but not before he attempts to claim his third straight Karaka Million at Ellerslie on Sale-eve, January 26. Te Akau two-year-olds occupy more slots on the Karaka Million Order of Entry than any other trainer or owner which a remarkable achievement on Ellis’ behalf given that the number of eligible horses numbers in excess 1,000. ‘’We could have five or six runners in the race,’’ Ellis (pictured) said. ‘’Number one on the Order of Entry is Aotea Lad, who won a Group 2 race at his first start, and the filly Probabeel has a win second from two starts — they are both by Savabeel. Also, we’ve got a really nice Dundeel named Yourdeel who won his first and only start by five lengths. “We never buy a horse just as a two-year-old unless they have the scope to train on to be good three and four-year-olds. “For example, Melody Belle. She won the Karaka Million, the Group 1 Manawatu Sires and then 2 BRC Sires’ Produce in Australia, before being voted champion 2YO for her season. She came back Karaka Million night the following year and won the Group 3 Mongolian Khan Trophy and now is still winning Group races as a four-year-old. “Already this season she’s recorded two further Group 1s, a Group 2 and a mighty unlucky 1 third from wide draw in the past five months. Those are sort of horses we try to buy.’’ Melody Belle almost gave Te Akau the perfect start to 2019 only to be beaten a neck in the time-honoured Group 1 Railway Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day. “She’s in super form and we would like to think that she would make her presence felt in Australia again,’’ Ellis said. The Karaka graduate has played a big role in Te Akau’s extraordinary success since over the previous 12 months which included Group wins on the same day in New Zealand, Singapore and England. Te Akau is a formidable force in where the string is headed up by Mark Walker whose 2018 feats included a Group 1 quinella and the prized 1 Singapore Gold Cup. The void that Walker left at home in New Zealand when he relocated to the Lion City has been well and truly filled by one of the rising stars of the training ranks, Jamie Richards. “Jamie has started off unbelievably well training in his own right as Te Akau trainer and he’s making really good decisions,’’ Ellis says. ‘’He is training and placing our horses really well, had a huge work ethic and is a guy with lot of talent. You are going to hear more of him on the international stage in the years ahead.’’ Richards has led the trainers’ premiership for most of season with a formidable strike rate of 4.63, the best of the country’s top 25 trainers. “Half Te Akau’s horses have paid a dividend and with nine Group and Listed wins already this season, we could surpass our record-breaking season for black-type wins last year (17),’’ Ellis said.