Suc­cess breeds more big race vic­to­ries for Te Akau

The Sportsman Weekend - - Karaka 2019 - SHAYNE O’CASS

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.

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