Mark Walker is a world-class horse trainer, with five Champion Trainer titles in New Zealand, and four 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.
Prior to leaving his home at Matamata, New Zealand, to set up stables for Te Akau at Kranji racecourse, Walker set a new benchmark for wins in a season when he trained 108 in 2009/10 season, eclipsing the previous seventeen-year-old record.
Winning the training premiership five times in New Zealand, Walker was the youngest with his first success in 2003/04 when only 31, subsequently eclipsed by Jamie Richards when winning aged 30 in 2019/20, while also establishing a new record (160) last season.
Te Akau trainer from 1997 – 2010, Walker trained 858 winners, including 88 stakes winner.
Adept at handling both bloodstock and livestock, Walker grew up on a dairy farm in Rahotu, about 30 minutes from Opunake.
In November 2018, Walker recorded his 500th win in Singapore when Elite Invincible (Archarcharch) provided a season highlight in $1.35m Singapore Gold Cup (Gr. 1, 2000m), and now registered over 1500 wins as a trainer.
Like Kiwi trainer Chris Waller, who grew up in Foxton before becoming a star in Australia, Walker also arose from somewhat obscure beginnings and it was a Shetland pony named Mac that provided his introduction to horses.
He started at Opunake Pony Club and ended up doing a lot of show-jumping and eventing between the ages of seven and 17.
Away from training horses, Walker is a farmer and has keen interests in economics. He has three children.
Mark Walker has worked for David Ellis 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 without a vacancy, Ellis 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, employing Mark Walker is the best decision he has ever made.
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). In doing so, he broke a 17 year old record set by Dave and Paul O’Sullivan (104) for the highest number of wins in a season. His Premiership wins came in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
In Singapore, Walker was Champion Trainer in 2015, 2017 (record 87 wins), 2019, and 2021, runner-up three times, third, and fourth.
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.
Total number of New Zealand and Australia wins: 863 (858 in NZ – 5 in Australia)
Total number of wins in Singapore: 124 (commencing September 2010 as at 29.4.13)
Total number of Group 1 races won: 20 (19 in NZ, 1 in Australia).
Mark’s first Group 1 win was with Maroofity in the Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes (1200m) in 2003. He has trained 10 individual Group 1 winners of 20 Group 1 races. His first stakes’ winner was Integrate in the Group 2 Japan/NZ International Trophy at Tauranga in March 1999.
Singapore Premiership Winning Trainer 2015
Total number of stakes wins: 100
BIGGEST RACE WINS IN NEW ZEALAND:
Group 1 $2 million Kelt Capital Stakes – Princess Coup – 2008
Group 1 $2 million Kelt Capital Stakes – Princess Coup – 2007
Group 1 $750,000 Kelt Capital Stakes – Distinctly Secret – 2003
Group 1 Ellerslie Sires’ Produce Stakes – Maroofity – 2003
Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes – Maroofity – 2003
Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes – Kindacross – 2005
Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas – King’s Chapel – 2003
Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas – Darci Brahma – 2005
Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas – Tell a Tale – 2008 (1st $1 million race in South Island)
Group 1 Telegraph Handicap – King’s Chapel – 2004
Group 1 Telegraph Handicap – Darci Brahma – 2007
Group 1 Otaki WFA Stakes – King’s Chapel – 2004
Group 1 Otaki WFA Stakes – Darci Brahma – 2006
Group 1 Thorndon Mile – Maroofity – 2005
Group 1 NZ Bloodstock Breeders Stakes – Arlingtonboulevard – 2006
Group 1 Waikato Sprint – Darci Brahma – 2007
Group 1 New Zealand Oaks – Princess Coup – 2007
Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas – Insouciant – 2007
Group 1 Stoneybridge Stakes – Princess Coup – 2008
BIGGEST RACE WINS IN SINGAPORE:
Group 3 Committee’s Prize – Flying Fulton – 2011
Group 3 New Year Cup – Flying Fulton – 2012
Group 3 Polytrack Mile Championship – Flying Fulton – 2012
Group 3 Colonial Chief Stakes – Flying Fulton – 2012
Group 3 Marsiling Classic Stakes – Flying Fulton – 2013
BIGGEST RACE WINS IN AUSTRALIA:
Group 1 TJ Smith Handicap – Darci Brahma – 2005
Group 2 St George Stakes – Princess Coup – 2008
Group 2 QTC Grand Prix Stakes – Distinctly Secret – 2002
Group 3 BTC Chairmans Handicap – Society Beau – 2002
Listed Rough Habit Plate – Distinctly Secret – 2002
2nd Group 1 Australian Cup – Princess Coup – 2008
2nd Group 1 BMW Stakes – Princess Coup – 2008
2nd Group 1 Ranvet Stakes – Princess Coup – 2008
2nd Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes – Princess Coup – 2007
2nd Group 1 VRC Australian Guineas – Darci Brahma – 2006
2nd Group 1 AJC George Main Stakes – King’s Chapel – 2004
3rd Group 1 Caulfield Cup – Princess Coup 2007
3rd Group 1 Caulfield Cup – Distinctly Secret – 2004
3rd Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes – Distinctly Secret – 2003
BEST HORSES TRAINED:
Princess Coup (purchased by David Ellis)
4 time Group 1 winner – including back to back Kelt Capital Stakes
2006-07 NZ Filly of the Year
2006-07 NZ Champion 3YO of the Year
2007-08 NZ Champion Middle Distance Horse of the Year (twice)
2007-08 NZ Champion Stayer of the Year
Stakes earned $NZ 4.23 million
Highest earning progeny of Encosta De Lago
Leading Horse of All Time in NZ for domestic stakes earnings (source NZTR)
Darci Brahma (purchased by David Ellis)
5 time Group 1 winner
2004-05 NZ Champion 2YO of the Year
2005-06 NZ Champion 3YO of the Year
2006-07 NZ Champion Sprinter of the Year
Stakes earned $1.3 million – winner of 10 races
Standing at stud
King’s Chapel (purchased by David Ellis)
3 time Group 1 winner
2003-04 NZ Champion 3YO of the Year
2003-04 NZ Champion Sprinter /Miler
2003-04 NZ Horse of the Year
Standing at stud
Maroofity (purchased by David Ellis)
3 time Group 1 winner
2002-03 NZ Champion 2YO of the Year
Distinctly Secret (bred by David Ellis)
Group 1 Kelt Capital Stakes winner (also twice runner up)
Twice winner Group 2 Awapuni Gold Cup
Winner Group 2 Grand Prix Stakes, Listed Rough Habit Plate – Australia
Stakes earned $1.82 million – winner of 10 races
Flying Fulton (purchased by David Ellis)
6 time Group and Listed winner (five Group 3 races in Singapore, one Listed in NZ)
2012 Singapore Polytrack Horse of the Year
Stakes earned $1.3 million
Other Career Highlights:
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.
Headed the NZ Trainers’ Premiership for most wins in a season, four times since 2003-04 and twice finished second and third.
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).