Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis is no stranger to winning million dollar races – since 2017, his stable has passed the post first in four of them here at Ellerslie.
In the lead-up to Saturday's $1,000,000 Vodafone New Zealand Derby where Te Akau Racing will again be aiming to pass the post first - and where retired stable star, Gingernuts, will be leading the field out - we sat down for a chat with racing's million dollar guy.
Can you describe what it feels like to win a $1million race?
“Since January 2017, Te Akau has won four $1,000,000 races with Avantage, Melody Belle, Gingernuts and, just in January, Probabeel [Te Akau also got second and third in that race].
We were also beaten by a whisker in last year’s $1,000,000 Vodafone New Zealand Derby with Mongolianconqueror, as well as the $1,000,000 Karaka Million 3YO Classic with Embellish.
We love winning these races and I am proud to have purchased each of these horses. It is exciting and exhilarating for Te Akau owners and our whole team when we take line-honours.”
Do you have any pre-race rituals that you can share with us?
“Not really, except that I do watch our team race from the same place on course every year.”
Who is your favourite racehorse?
“My favourite all-time racehorse would have to be a horse I bred - Distinctly Secret. He ran in three consecutive Caulfield Cups and two Melbourne Cups.
He was just the most beautiful and kind horse who loved to please and always tried his heart out.
He is living the life of retirement with his strapper who just adored him.“
You’ve travelled all over the world – how does Ellerslie compare to other racecourses?
“Ellerslie can hold its head high and it certainly has a special place in my heart.
My first ever Group 1 race win was the Easter Handicap with a horse called Cosmetique. I attended my first ever race meeting at Ellerslie and became a member when I was 20.
Ellerslie boasts wonderful facilities that host big crowds on some of the most important race meetings on New Zealand’s calendar.
The Auckland Racing Club is so professional and innovative - the new stabling area is as good as you will see anywhere in the world."
Thanks to his connections and the team at Te Akau Racing, 2017 Vodafone New Zealand Derby winner, Gingernuts, will be making his first public appearance since his retirement as he leads out the field of this year's $1,000,000 feature on Saturday. Make sure you're on course to see him!