Te Akau Again as Tokyo Tycoon Triumphs in Karaka Million 2YO

21 January 2023

Tokyo Tycoon (NZ) stormed home to win the $1m DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m).

In some ways, Saturday’s 16th running of the $1m DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) was a Karaka Million like no other – the first million-dollar race ever run at Pukekohe, with regular venue Ellerslie closed for redevelopment. But as soon as the starting gates opened, it was business as usual. 

Syndication powerhouse Te Akau Racing won New Zealand’s richest two-year-old race for the seventh year in a row, with Tokyo Tycoon (NZ) (Satono Aladdin) extending his unbeaten record to three out of three. Bought by David Ellis for $125,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2022, he has now earned $599,150.

The Karaka Million-winning gelding was bred and sold by Rich Hill Stud, who will offer a half-sister by Vadamos as Lot 24 during Book 1 of Karaka 2023 next Sunday.

Te Akau Racing won their seventh consecutive Karaka Million 2YO race.

Tokyo Tycoon earned his place in the Karaka Million line-up with stylish victories in his first two starts, including a powerful performance at Pukekohe on Boxing Day that made him one of the favourites for the big one. Remarkably, by the time he stepped out on to the track for Saturday’s Karaka Million, he was one of seven runners for Te Akau Racing among a well-credentialled 14-horse field. 

A horror gate of 13 in Wednesday’s barrier draw appeared to have dealt a severe blow to Tokyo Tycoon’s chances, and his prospects looked even bleaker when he stumbled in the first couple of strides.

But jockey Craig Zackey bided his time at the tail of the field, then found a way into clear air halfway down the straight.

Cambridge fillies Ulanova (NZ) (Santos) and Ethereal Star (Snitzel) appeared to have the finish all to themselves coming into the final 100 metres, but then Tokyo Tycoon suddenly emerged from the pack and flew straight past them, going clear to score by three-quarters of a length.

“Wow,” Te Akau Racing’s Karyn Fenton-Ellis said. “Winning this race for the seventh year in a row, it really takes a team, and my goodness gracious, does Te Akau Racing have a magnificent tangerine team. They’re such dedicated people.

“It all begins at the top of the business with my wonderful husband David Ellis, who selected and bought this horse as yearling at Karaka, as he’s done over many years.

“We believe in the New Zealand racing industry, we want people to be involved and have the opportunity, and gosh we love winning this race.”

Tokyo Tycoon is trained by multiple premiership winner Mark Walker, who replaced the Hong Kong-bound Jamie Richards partway through last year.

“It’s a real relief, if anything,” Walker said. “After the two wins by Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, and then another four by Jamie on his own, I didn’t want to be the one that jinxed it! It’s very satisfying.

“It’s amazing for David Ellis to have bought the winner of this race seven years in a row. You could go anywhere in the world and struggle to see an achievement like that in any other major race. Being given these outstanding yearlings to train, it really makes our job easy.

“From the wide draw, we had a Plan A, B and C, and dropping out the back like that was probably Plan C. But I think the best horse on the day won.

“It just goes to show that anyone can win this race. He wasn’t a particularly expensive yearling, and he was one of the last ones that we were able to sell all the shares in. I actually have a piece of the tail myself, along with a great group of owners.”

Tokyo Tycoon delivered an extraordinary moment for Zackey, a former champion apprentice in South Africa who only arrived in New Zealand late last year.

“It’s unexplainable,” he said. “To have only come to New Zealand a few months ago and to be winning one of the biggest races here is overwhelming. I think it’ll take a day or two to hit me.

“Mark left the tactics up to me. For him to stumble and lose so much ground coming out of the starting gates, find his rhythm again and then make up eight or nine lengths in the straight – what a good horse. All credit to him, he’s a superstar.”

Runner-up Ethereal Star was a $600,000 purchase from Book 1 of Karaka 2022. Her three-start career has produced a win, two second placings and $227,300 in stakes. Third-placed Trobriand (Kermadec) is a stablemate of the winner and was bought by Ellis for $260,000. He has had three wins and a third from four starts, earning $192,090.

Vendor Rich Hill Stud
Purchaser Mr DC Ellis (Te Akau)
Breeding Satono Aladdin – All About The Coin
Sale Lot 77, Karaka 2022 Book 1, $125,000
Bred by Rich Hill Thoroughbreds