3 July 2020

The montage featured here is made up of photos of just some of those wonderful people involved in our industry and, over the coming weeks we will be profiling around 30 who each fulfil a particular role.

We will be asking them how they came to be involved in racing, what they love about their job and what advice they would give anyone wanting to get involved.

As well as being an opportunity to promote the many and varied roles in racing, we will also get to celebrate some of the hugely passionate people in our industry.

Name:  Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM & David Ellis CNZM – Te Akau Racing

Role:  We are thoroughbred owners, breeders, racing club Chairmen (one past, one present) and one of New Zealand’s most successful syndicators.  We own Champion Stables in New Zealand and Singapore - our trainers Mark Walker and Jamie Richards have won 10 Trainers’ Premierships between them.  Te Akau is a really passionate part of the #onehorsemanyhearts team

Length of time in racing:  David 46 years and Karyn 40 years (we were VERY young)!!

How did you get involved in the industry:  Almost exactly the same way – we both went to the races with friends – David to Ellerslie and Karyn to Timaru.  This experience ignited what has been the passion of a lifetime.  We love every part of the thoroughbred industry but racing holds a special place in our hearts.  We are both dedicated to developing young people and helping them reach their potential because that’s where the future of our industry lies. Industry talent such as our trainer Jamie Richards, currently rated No. 9 in the Global Trainer Ratings, is just one example.  We also get such a thrill from seeing Te Akau owners enjoy their racing experience and success with us!  This is what it’s all about - the fun, the people you meet and most importantly, the love of the horse.

What are your favourite aspects of your role (as a syndicator):  Welcoming new owners in to racing! Every year we welcome many new owners to Te Akau and the enthusiasm of our new and existing owners is just brilliant – that’s our whole focus, our owners coming first! Te Akau owns its stables in New Zealand and Singapore and nothing gives us greater pleasure than sharing the fun and the excitement of racing.  Our owners deal with us directly and often tell us that being involved with Te Akau has changed their lives and they have made so many new friends. 

We also really enjoy identifying and purchasing promising young horses that our owners can choose to be involved with.  There is nothing like watching yearlings develop under the care of our world-class team and become competitive race horses.  There are so many wonderful stories of Te Akau syndicates’ success - horses such as Group 1 winners Te Akau Shark, Avantage, Darci Brahma, this year’s Karaka 2YO Million winner Cool Aza Beel and so many more. Our owners become our friends and these are relationships we really treasure. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing:  Just do it!  It’s easy, fun and affordable to be involved. There is nothing like thrill of having a share in your own horse – going to the races with your family and friends, cheering your horse on and celebrating together.  It's more fun when you're not the only one having it! 

Name:  Tim Mills

Role:  Chief Executive, Canterbury Jockey Club

Length of time in racing:  From the cradle, working life 40 years.

How did you get involved in the industry:  Racing is bred into me.  Family lore records a racing passion from the earliest days with one of our forebears, Hector McDonald, marrying a niece and befriending an elderly Chief Te Rauparaha reportedly accompanying him to the Otaki Maori Races. Dad was President of the Wellington Racing Club, Mum’s Dad Jack MacDonald held racing and punting such a priority that the red bound ‘Form Record’ substituted the prayer book for an hour’s study at mass (Incidentally his best horse HOT DROP was trained by Percy Burgess, grandfather of NZTR’s Mary). Other family members on the MacDonald side were administrators with the Ashhurst-Pohangina and Manawatu Racing Clubs. My Godfather Felix Campbell is father of Group 1 winning trainer Patrick and raced numerous horses with Dad.  St Patrick’s College Silverstream may not see it as its greatest role but it has produced a plethora of racing men. Caned (amongst other punishments) for escaping the grounds to attend Trentham and, possibly not the best advertisement for respect for schooling, leaving a bursary exam to listen to dad’s horse Tarlton win and score a record collect on the communal schoolboy TAB account did nothing to dissuade the racing interest.  Leaving school to work at what was then the New Zealand Racing Conference and on to the Canterbury Jockey Club.  The Conference Wellington days involved a wonderful group of people whose only weekend ambition was to get in the car on Friday night or Saturday morning and head to the nearest racemeeting.  Great race days of comradery, punting and the odd ale or two followed by obligatory after-matches at the local pubs created so many lifelong friendships cemented by a common love of horses and racing.  If there was ever any doubt that reinforced racing as the only working life for me.  Having to be on-course to watch BALMERINO, the GREY WAY/COPPER BELT clashes, THUN and OWHATA CHIEF vie for hurdle supremacy, LA MER, amongst so many others and to have to take your treble or jackpot was just great fun.  That continued when moving to Canterbury and meeting many more outstanding people and friends, travelling to new racecourses and parts of the country and seeing so many more memorable horses.

What are your favourite aspects of your role:  Racing is just so much more than a job.  It is about being involved and contributing to the tapestry of a wonderful sport.  Playing a role in running a racecourse and race meetings which enable horses and people to add to that tapestry and create history is hugely satisfying.  The range of emotions that you see in the birdcage before and after even the smallest of races is something I doubt you get in many jobs.  I take pride in Riccarton Park Racecourse.  As a custodian of a 165-year-old sports ground there is a need to ensure that whilst respecting the past it is improved and enhanced for the next 165.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing:  Don’t think you can please everyone.  The very nature of racing sees the 100/1 shot beat the odds on at times.  As such there will be extreme views at each end of the spectrum on any and almost all issues.  If you can look yourself in the mirror and confidently say you have done your best and made the right decision for, and in the best interests of, the majority you won’t go far wrong. 

Name:  Lisa Allpress

Role: Jockey

Length of time in racing: 25 years

How did you get involved in the industry:  I had been riding in a pre-training farm in Japan and when I came back to NZ I didn’t have a job so started riding for some trainers in Stratford. Warren Dymond told me I should do an apprenticeship so he helped me get in touch with Kevin Gray. I signed up when I was 20.

What are your favourite aspects of your role: I just love riding, to ride a horse as a youngster and then win races on them is such a buzz, or to win on a horse that has no form or others have said no chance, it’s very satisfying.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing: You have to have a great work ethic, it’s a very mentally challenging career with many highs but you also have to be able to handle the lows and the criticism.

Name:  Shane Cole

Role:  Northern Area Manager for Power Turf NZ

Length of time in racing:  All my life

How did you get involved in the industry:  I was born in to a racing family and have been lucky enough that the industry has become part of my job supplying turf equipment to race tracks NZ-wide

What are your favourite aspects of your role:  Building and maintaining relationships with the country’s track managers. The industry is full of great people and it makes my job easy when providing solutions for turf and track maintenance.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing:  There is something for everyone in this industry, find an aspect you love, and you can make it your life.

Name:  Dale Bothwell

Role:  Equine Sports Massage Therapist based in Taranaki

Length of time in racing/How did you get involved in the industry:  My father Dick Bothwell was a successful horse trainer so racing has always been a part of my life.  Consequently, I developed a love of horses at an early age.

What are your favourite aspects of your role:  Being an Equine Sports Massage Therapist allows me to give something back to the horse.  Racehorses are athletes and like any athlete they suffer from muscular stress and strain.  Racing and training can take a toll on horses bodies. They do hurt, they do feel pain and sometimes they do struggle.  But they can be helped.  Horse welfare, soundness and Performance are linked and more and more under the spotlight.  Fortunately, there are many varied therapists working throughout NZ making horses lives happier and healthier.  I encourage anyone to go the extra mile for their horse.  You never know the difference it is going to make.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing:  Look at horse syndication in your area, get a group of friends together and get a share in a horse. It doesn’t have to be a huge share to have fun. Going to the races to watch your horse race is a great thrill. If it runs well that's even better!

Name: Annmarie Van der Sande (was Hughes)

Role: Equine Dentist

Length of time in racing: 14 years (makes me feel old)

How did you get involved in the industry: Initially, professionally but fell down the slippery slope of ownership. Racehorses, yearlings and ready to runs, oh and also event an OTTTB (off the track TB). (It’s a very slippery slope 😆).

What are your favourite aspects of your role: Working with thoroughbreds! Absolutely incredible creatures. Also the people, the industry is full of amazing passionate people, fuelled by adoration for the TB.

It’s a tough, soul destroying, brutal industry not for the faint hearted, so you get the pleasure of working with some absolute characters.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing: Put on your brave pants, your thickest skin and get involved.....It will change your life!!

Name: Mark Jones

Role: Waikato & Central Districts Manager for Majestic Horse Floats LP

Length of time in racing: 40+ years

How did you get involved in the industry: Just a natural progression from Pony Club, Showing etc

What are your favourite aspects of your role:  After 24yrs with the company, not one day is same, all the people you meet and the great team I work with.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing: Keep your head down and listen, you never stop learning.

Name: Stephanie Tierney            

Role:  Pre-trainer at Moemoea Park

Length of time in racing: 14 years

How did you get involved in the industry: Off the back of a retired racehorse that I rescued. I ended up using her as a stock horse on the dairy farm and it was doing this that I discovered the power, strength and versatility of thoroughbreds and the incredible workhorses that they are.

What are your favourite aspects of your role: Working with the thoroughbreds one on one and the bond you can create. You never stop learning and they teach you a lot of life’s lessons and keep you humble! There is also a lot of variety within the industry and the ability to extend your knowledge in all areas from horsemanship to office admin and business management to farm machinery and maintenance. I guess I would say I love all aspects!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing: Work hard, set goals and learn everything you can from every individual both human and horse!

Name:  Wayne Stewart
Role:  Stud Manager at White Robe Lodge
Length of time in racing:  30+ years
How did you get involved in the industry:  After school and weekend work at AN (Micky) Didham’s Wingatui training stable.
What are your favourite aspects of your role:  Delivering foals watching them grow out and the thrills they give you when they go on to achieve on the racetrack. Also the wide range of good people you meet in the industry.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing:  Be honest, prepared to work hard and be patient.

Name: Paxton Conder

Role: Marketing Manager at Dunstan Horsefeeds & Fiber Fresh

Length of time in racing: 10 years

How did you get involved in the industry:  I have always ridden, and got the bug after riding in a pony scurry down the Matamata Racecourse straight when I was 7. As soon as I got my driver’s licence I pestered Lance Noble for a job. Thankfully he agreed and I went on to ride trackwork for the next 6 years, during school and university before I started as the Marketing Manager at Counties Racing Club. I have now found myself in the nutrition side of the industry, which I love!

What are your favourite aspects of your role:  I love working for a New Zealand brand that gives back to the Industry. Support is everything in this game and it makes me so proud to see a Dunstan fuelled athlete cross the line in a Dunstan Sponsored Race. We are dedicated to providing the right nutrition to New Zealand horses performing in New Zealand conditions, so to see it all come together on raceday really makes it all worthwhile. I am very lucky to often be the one there to capture that moment and share the success with our followers.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing:  Don’t be afraid to reach out! There are so many opportunities in the racing industry that don’t even require you to go near an animal. If you are passionate about the industry and you have a will to learn, then industry participants are only happy to help. There is so much history and knowledge within racing, so take every opportunity to learn. I am also involved with Future of Racing NZ (FoRacing NZ) which is an incorporated society that myself and a few other young keen minds put together to help encourage and mentor young people that are keen to get involved in the industry but perhaps aren’t too sure how. So there are ways to help, you just need to make the first step!

Name:  Andrew Carston 

Role:  Thoroughbred Trainer, Riccarton Park 

Length of time in racing:  20 years in racing 

How did you get involved in the industry:  Family always been in the industry, started helping Barrie Taggart at Riccarton while still at school as my brother was apprenticed to him, went from there to Les Didham as my first job in racing.

What are your favourite aspects of your role:

  • Nothing more rewarding than winning any race, but obviously listed and group races are the pinnacle.
  • Getting a project, a tried horse normally from up north, changing things around and getting them back in form is something I challenge myself to do.
  • Seeing one of my apprentices or staff ride or train a winner is very pleasing for me.
  • Getting results for loyal owners is also a rewarding part of my job.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing:  Racing is a great game, challenging and not for the faint hearted. My advice is to work hard and results will come and you can only expect to get out the industry what you put in.


Name:  Justine Sclater

Role:  Passionate thoroughbred breeder, racehorse owner and CEO of the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Length of time involved in the industry:  Lifetime

How did you get involved in the industry:  As the daughter of an equine vet I couldn’t help but become involved and it then became an addiction from there on – I even pretended my pony Mischief was champion mare Show Gate.

What are your favourite aspects of your role:  The people, celebrating my fellow breeders’ achievements, being inspired and learning their story behind these successes. As a breeder growing young stock, following their careers and hopefully experiencing a proud “mummy moment”.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in racing: It’s a roller coaster but hang on for the ride as its it worth it and you never stop learning.

You might also like