Te Akau principal David Ellis had a double celebration at tonight’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards in Auckland – one of his yearling purchases was named champion two-year-old, and then later in the evening the man himself was honoured with the Outstanding Contribution to Racing Award.
Melody Belle, who Ellis bought for $57,500 at the 2016 Premier Sale at Karaka, won the Karaka Million and the Gr. 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes before going to Brisbane and adding the Gr. 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes at Eagle Farm. Raced by one of John Galvin’s Fortuna syndicates, Melody Belle earned more than $865,000 in prize-money.
The Commands filly was a comfortable winner in this season's two-year-old category, receiving 46 votes. The runner-up, transtasman Group One performer Summer Passage, got 11.
Melody Belle is the latest in a long line of Ellis purchases to have been crowned champions of their generation, following the likes of Xtravagant, Costa Viva, Darci Brahma, Princess Coup, King’s Chapel, Warhorse, Maroofity and Singaporean award winners War Affair and Flying Fulton.
The Outstanding Contribution to Racing Award honoured Ellis’ three decades of heavy involvement in ownership and syndication, dating back to a first Group One win as an owner with Cosmetique in the 1986 Easter Handicap.
Ellis has been the leading buyer at the Karaka yearling sales every year for more than a decade with a total spend in excess of $60 million, and Te Akau has become an industry leader in racehorse syndication.
One of the biggest Te Akau success stories in recent times has been Gingernuts, a $42,500 purchase at the Ready to Run Sale who has so far earned almost $1.1 million in prize-money for a group of mostly first-time owners with victories in this year's Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas, Gr. 1 New Zealand Derby and Gr. 1 Rosehill Guineas.