It's 1976. David Ellis has just won his first race as a thoroughbred owner. The other 50 per cent owner was Matamata trainer, the late Bill Ford. With Ford having to saddle a horse in the following race, Ellis went to the Paeroa Racecourse bar.

No, Ellerslie, Longchamp or Sha Tin it was not, but the location mattered not at all.

What mattered plenty was Ellis had to celebrate on his own.

"I thought: 'There's got to be more to horse racing than this'." At Randwick today not one of the massive crowd will not know the 42 owners of come-from-the-dead Kiwi star Gingernuts are on course if he wins the A$2m Australian Derby.


There will be no celebrating on their own. Close to half the owners are first timers - a couple had not been on a racetrack until Gingernuts scored his extraordinary $100,000 Avondale Guineas win six weeks ago - and there is no celebrating like celebrating at a major feature. Particularly in the plush Randwick surrounds.

The 1976 win was not the sole reason for Ellis' Te Akau Racing morphing into a massive syndication business, but it helped. Most of the owners arrived in Sydney yesterday along with Blair Alexander.

David Ellis bought only two horses at the 2015 Ready To Run Sale - Hall Of Fame for $230,000 and Gingernuts at $42,500, now both group one winners.

Ellis syndicated 40 per cent of Gingernuts among regular Te Akau clients and Blair Alexander was given the remaining share to syndicate.

"It's a remarkable story," says Alexander. "Eleven of the syndicate members also have small shares in Hasselhoof. They have a record of more wins than losses. It's bizzare."

Part of the legend of Gingernuts is that he finished fourth at Stratford over the holidays - the lowest of low - to suddenly become the hero of racing on both sides of the Tasman.

"He's the equine Forrest Gump," says Alexander. "He has suddenly put it together and attracts a lot of attention. He's different and does amazing things."

But Alexander is trying to walk the knife edge of balancing the enormous thrill of winning million dollar races with the knowledge that if he syndicates another horse to these people the chances of it being at the same level is about the same as an Auckland white Christmas.

"If he's beaten tomorrow we are going to have a party that we've already won two group ones. In fact, we had a party in Auckland last night and a couple of members went straight to the airport this morning." Yes, there ain't anything like winning major races.

Tired of this
I don't get the increasing popularity of Australian race callers declaring winners "getting tired" late in a race.

"He needs the winning post", "Racing on tired legs but will get there", "Getting tired", is heard every second or third race, gallops, harness and dogs in Australia lately.

If the winner's getting tired, how tired are those behind? The last few words of Gingernuts' Rosehill Guineas call was: "He's getting tired."

In fact, jockey Opie Bosson had eased him down to not much more than three-quarter pace and he had his ears pricked. The horses behind were the tired ones.