Meeting Mark Walker
7 Apr 2022
With Mark Walker returning to his old stomping ground we take a look back at his history with Te Akau.
Mark is a world-class horse trainer, with five Champion Trainer titles in New Zealand, and four Champion Trainer titles in Singapore – most recently last year (2021). Walker joined Te Akau Racing straight from school and rose to the heights of top-class thoroughbred trainer, capable of making his mark in any racing jurisdiction worldwide.
An outstanding horseman, Walker led the way among New Zealand horse trainers, dominating New Zealand racing in the decade to 2010, when he transferred to set up Te Akau Racing Stables in Singapore. Results speak volumes for both his talent and ability to lead a team.
He won five New Zealand Trainers’ Premierships in seven years and in the 2009/10 season won the Premiership with 108 wins (28 more than the closest rival). This was a new benchmark for wins in a season, eclipsing the previous seventeen-year-old record.
During his first tenure at the Te Akau New Zealand helm he trained 858 winners, including 88 stakes’ winners, and has over 20 Group 1 wins to his credit. He still holds the New Zealand record for two-year-old winners in a season.
In November 2018, Mark recorded his 500th win in Singapore when Elite Invincible provided a season highlight in $1.35m Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup and he registered over 1500 wins as a trainer, and holds the record for wins in a Singapore season.
Away from training horses, Mark enjoys farming and take a keen interest in economics. He resides in Matamata with his partner Mirka and has three children.
Like Kiwi trainer Chris Waller, who grew up in Foxton before becoming a star in Australia, Walker also arose from somewhat ‘obscure beginnings’ growing up on a dairy farm in Rahotu, about 30 minutes from Opunake. It was a Shetland pony named ‘Mac’ that provided his introduction to horses and he joined the Opunake Pony Club, becoming a very talented show-jumping and eventing competitor between the ages of seven and 17.
Mark Walker has worked for David Ellis CNZM since leaving high school and is now his business partner. Armed with his CV, Walker walked up the driveway at Te Akau Stud and asked David Ellis for a job.
Although there were no vacancies at the time, David took the time to read through the CV and promptly hired Walker – the rest, as they say, is history. Ellis freely admits that apart from marrying Karyn (Fenton-Ellis MNZM), employing Mark Walker is the best decision he has ever made.
Here’s just a sample of his unmissable stats:
Number of years as a licensed public trainer: Mark commenced training in the 1998/99 season. His first win came on 8 August 1998 at Te Rapa in Hamilton when Galaxy Lover won a hurdle race.
Mark’s first Group 1 win was with Maroofity in the Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes (1200m) in 2003.
He won the “Newcomer to Training” Award at the official NZTR Annual Racing Awards, during his first season as a trainer in 1998-99.
He was voted “NZ Trainer of the Year” four times at the official NZTR Annual Racing Awards – 2003-04, 2005-06, 2006/07 and 2008/09.
Youngest ever recipient of the “NZ Trainer of the Year” award when he first won the title as a 31 year old during season 2003-04.
In 2007-08 broke the NZ record for the highest number of 2YO wins in a season, winning 23 juvenile events with 16 individual 2YOs.
In 2007-08 became the first ever trainer to win the prestigious NZ Bloodstock Filly of the Year title for three consecutive years with Shikoba in 2005-06, Princess Coup in 2006-07 and Insouciant in 2007-08.
In 2007-08 was the first trainer to win NZ’s first ever $2million race, the Kelt Capital Stakes, in which he went on to record back to back wins after Princess Coup’s second consecutive victory in 2008-09.
In 2008-09 won the South Island’s first ever $1 million race, the Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas with Tell a Tale.
In 2008-09 Te Akau established a new New Zealand record for domestic stakes’ earnings in one season – $3.71 million.
In 2009-10 established a new New Zealand all time record for wins in a season – 108 (previous record 104).
Please join us in welcoming Mark Walker back to New Zealand! We can’t wait for the future!