IN Racing
Ellis eyes return to Karaka Millions summit
“He’s got beautiful size, balance and looks like he’s got a good temperament. You can see in my book – ‘Real two-year-old type. Karaka Millions winner.’"
NZ Racing Desk | January 29, 2024
Lot 360, the Snitzel – Rondinella colt consigned by Haunui Farm. Photo: Trish Dunell

Te Akau Racing’s extraordinary reign in the Karaka Millions 2YO (1200m) was broken at Ellerslie on Saturday, but David Ellis has been on a mission at Karaka this week to return to the top of the podium.

Between 2017 and 2023, seven consecutive winners of the million-dollar juvenile feature were bought by Ellis and trained in Te Akau’s Matamata stable – Melody Belle (2017), Avantage (2018), Probabeel (2019), Cool Aza Beel (2020), On The Bubbles (2021), Dynastic (2022) and Tokyo Tycoon (2023).

Go Racing’s Velocious snapped that streak with a superb victory in the 2024 Karaka Millions 2YO, with Te Akau filly Damask Rose filling the runner-up position with an eye-catching finish in just the second start of her career.

Ellis has been as active as ever on the first two days of the 2024 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale at Karaka on Sunday and Monday, building a formidable arsenal of yearlings that he believes can put Te Akau in the Karaka Millions spotlight for the eighth time in nine years.

In his eyes, none fit that bill better than a Snitzel colt he secured for $825,000 on Monday afternoon.

Catalogued as Lot 360, the Haunui Farm colt is by champion Australian sire Snitzel and is the first foal out of the Ocean Park mare Rondinella.

A half-sister to Group Two winners Vavasour and Vilanova and three-quarter-sister to the Group Three-winning Celebrity Dream, Rondinella won four races from 1400m to 2100m and placed in the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m), Tancred Stakes (2400m) and Sydney Cup (3200m).

“We’re absolutely over the moon to be able to take a Snitzel colt of that quality home,” Ellis said. “We thought that he was one of the best colts we’ve seen at Karaka in five or six years. Karaka Millions, here we come.

“He’s got beautiful size, balance and looks like he’s got a good temperament. You can see in my book – ‘Real two-year-old type. Karaka Millions winner.’

“There was good competition for him, but there is on all of these good colts. Snitzel is one of the best sires we’ve had in this part of the world in the last 50 years, he’s that good, and this is the sort of money that you have to pay to buy a colt with this quality. We’re thrilled. But I didn’t have a lot left – I was on the ropes!”

Ellis has previously had Group One success with Snitzel’s progeny, with Sword Of State capturing the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) before embarking on a stallion career at Cambridge Stud. But Ellis believes Monday’s star colt holds more similarities with another former elite performer in those tangerine colours.

“He’s not the same sort of horse as Sword Of State,” Ellis said. “I think he’s more like Darci Brahma, who was champion two-year-old, three-year-old and four-year-old. He won a Group One in Australia as a two-year-old, and I think this colt is the same. After the Karaka Millions, I could see us turning him out for a week and then getting him ready for the Golden Slipper (1200m). That’s the plan.”

Ellis knows Rondinella’s family well, having bought her half-brother Vilanova for $150,000 at Karaka in 2012. He began his career in New Zealand under the name Catalonia, scoring a three-length Listed win at Te Rapa before finishing fourth in the Gr.3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) and fifth in the Karaka Million. He later won the Gr.2 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield and the Gr.3 Grand Prix (2200m) in Brisbane.

Lot 360 was the ninth purchase on Monday by Ellis, who also got on board with an exciting new venture with his $300,000 purchase of Lot 358 – a colt by Savabeel out of Romantic Time, who is the dam of Group One placegetter Young Werther and the recent Gr.2 Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes (2050m) winner About Time.

“We’ve just bought a nice Savabeel colt for the TAB Racing Club,” Ellis said. “That was a big thrill for us. It’s the first time that the TAB have asked us to buy a horse for them.

“It’s great to see the effort that the TAB and Entain are putting into promoting racing in this country. For somebody that’s been working in this industry for a lifetime, it’s such a thrill to see it being run by an organisation that is putting so much back into it.” 

Haunui Farm Snitzel David Ellis Te Akau Karaka 2024 Rondinella