Sign up to the TDN daily edition

Enter your details below to subscribe to the TDN Australia & NZ daily edition.

Highest of praise for Walker’s Cup effort

4 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

Te Akau principal David Ellis has paid Mark Walker the highest of compliments in the wake of the trainer’s G1 Singapore Cup success, which fittingly credited him with his 500th winner at Kranji.

His conditioning skills were never better showcased than on Sunday evening when Elite Invincible (IRE) (Archarchurch {USA}) triumphed in the feature.

“That horse had a temperature a month or so ago and I think for Mark to win that race was one of the greatest training performances that I have seen,” Ellis said.

“It was quite remarkable after that horse missed some lead-up racing.

“It shows why he was one of the greatest-ever trainers in New Zealand and he’s also won two premierships in Singapore.” – David Ellis.

“It shows why he was one of the greatest-ever trainers in New Zealand and he’s also won two premierships in Singapore.

“I was so proud to see how happy he was, that was great. It’s a big thing to be number one in New Zealand and then he’s gone to Asia and made a hell of a success of it for Te Akau racing.

“He’s made a lot of sacrifices to perform so well on the big stages and all credit to him.”

Overcoming setbacks

In his typically humble way, Walker deflected a lot of the credit following Elite Invincible’s performance.

Mark Walker

“There is no ‘I’ in team, this has been a team effort, and to make it my 500th win here is the icing on the cake,” he told the Singapore Turf Club’s website.

“I’ve tried to win the Gold Cup a few times with horses like Tell A Tale in my first year, and Sebrose, and to do it this year with Elite Invincible for the Elite Performance Stable is just so special.

“I always thought he was a Gold Cup horse, but he didn’t have an ideal prep.” – Mark Walker .

“I always thought he was a Gold Cup horse, but he didn’t have an ideal prep. He ran a good race in the Derby, had a spell, but then he spiked a temperature.”

Elite Invincible subsequently missed the first two legs of the Singapore Triple Crown, G1 Raffles Cup and the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, and had two lead-up races over 1200 metres and 1400 metres instead.

“These things happen in racing, it put us on the back foot, but we have to think out of the square,” Walker said.

“When it rained I thought he had no chance as he doesn’t like the sting out of the ground.” – Mark Walker .

“When it rained I thought he had no chance as he doesn’t like the sting out of the ground. I had even said we might as well leave the horse in his box if it rained, but we didn’t, and it was a genius of a ride by Benny (Woodworth) that won us the race.

Elite Invincible

“From his wide gate I had told the Stewards we would ride him back and hope he can finish off.

“But he jumped so well and that’s what makes a great jockey when they take their own initiative. Benny probably thought why drag him back, he might as well use his speed to get him up there and once he crossed to the rails, half the battle was won.

“The rest of the race was all about his class. People forget he nearly won all three Legs of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, and I guess having only 53kgs on his back also helped him today.”

Early days in England

Elite Invincible originally raced as Qatar Man for Marco Botti and was a winner in England before his relocation to Singapore.

The 4-year-old is the only winning foal of Go On The Dough (USA) (Bernardini {USA}) and is a half-sister to the G1 French 1000 Guineas winner Valentine Waltz (IRE) (Be My Guest {USA}) and to the G1 Belmont Matron S., winner Sense Of Style (USA) (Thunder Gulch {USA}).

It is also the family of the dual Group 1 winner and champion sire Last Tycoon (IRE) (Try My Best {USA}).

Big two weeks for Te Akau

Meanwhile, Ellis is hoping Walker’s success will be the forerunner to further celebrations on the home front with Te Akau representatives in action on Wednesday for head domestic trainer Jamie Richards.

“I’m going to Riccarton, we’ve got five runners, and then my sole focus will be on the Ready to Run Sale.” - David Ellis.

“I’m going to Riccarton, we’ve got five runners, and then my sole focus will be on the Ready to Run Sale,” Ellis said.

“I’ve been looking at a lot of horses for that and it’s an extremely good catalogue again.”