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Bluebloods : Karaka 2010 Yearling Sale Preview
ELLIS LOOKS TO TAKE IT INTERNATIONAL 38 avid Ellis is looking far-and-wide as he gets set for the 2010 round of the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales Series. Asked about the growth strategy going forward for his hugely-successful Te Akau Stud operation, Ellis was quick and to the point. "I want to take it international," said Ellis. "The horses we buy have to race internationally. We want to compete in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and, of course, Australia," he added. "We have the staffing structure in place whereby we can take our horses to compete on the international stage, without affecting what's happening at home." David Ellis and the Te Akau name have come a very long way since he made his debut purchasing yearlings for syndication at the 1981 Trentham Yearling Sales. He was at that time farming 550 acres of sheep and cattle. Now, 28 years on, he farms on the massive scale of 4000 acres. Asked if it's been the horses that have purchased the extra land, Ellis is low key in his response. "The horses have certainly helped during difficult farming years." David Ellis is proud that he has been buying yearlings at the New Zealand Sales Series every single year since 1981. "Nobody in the world has done that -- not even Bart Cummings." In nearly three decades of business, David Ellis and his Te Akau Stud operation have put together an imposing record. "The Kelt Capital Stakes has been the best race to us. We've had 7 runners in the last 8 years for 3 wins (Princess Coup x 2 and Distinctly Secret), 3 seconds and a fifth. We've won the NZ 2000 Guineas three times in the last six years with Tell a Tale, Darci Brahma and King's Chapel. Mark Walker has won 20 Group One races and has been New Zealand's Champion Trainer on four occasions." Roger James was the first trainer for the Te Akau operation. His five year stint was followed by a further five years in association with Stephen Autridge. Mark Walker has been the Te Akau trainer ever since. "Mark has been with me 20 years -- ever since the day he left school," said Ellis. Ellis puts his continued success down to four important ingredients -- 1: Pedigree analysis, 2: Physical inspection, 3: Forming partnerships, 4: Paying for the horse. "If any one of the four is not done properly, you won't have credibility for long. Te Akau is hard to head off in this regard." Ellis said that the home farm at Te Akau (north of Hamilton) is a key ingredient to the overall success of the operation. "It's a great environment. The horses go forward after the sales, not take a check. Our clients love coming to the farm as well." While the farm has a key role in the ongoing success story of the Te Akau operation, Ellis is quick to give credit to Mark Walker. "Everything we buy is trained by Mark and we do everything together including the selection of the horses." David Ellis has vivid memories of some of the big buyers from the Trentham Sales days. "Names like Laurie Connell, Don Dick, Bart Cummings and Tommy Smith come to mind," said Ellis. "Mark and I are very proud that we've managed to take matters to the level where we are now key operators in the selling arena. Over the past three years we've outlaid around $16 million on yearlings at Karaka." Ellis said that part of the growth strategy is to continually attract new owners. "We like to make them feel incredibly welcome -- happy and confident in the Te Akau environment. In my early 20's I hated not being well informed by trainers. We make a special effort to communicate with all our clients on a regular basis." Ellis said that his non-stop run of attendance at the National Yearling Sale would continue at Karaka 2010. "Last year we purchased 35 yearlings and sold every share in every horse. We need at least 25 yearlings each year." LEADING NZ buyer David Ellis speaks with NZTM CEO, Adrian Clark David Ellis and his wife, talented broadcaster Karyn Fenton-Ellis. D
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