DONNA LOGAN TO BECOME PART OF TE AKAU RACING
Donna Logan to join the Te Akau Team . Mark Walker to return to New Zealand. Donna will commence the new year with a large team of very nice horses with some fantastically bred replacements arriving from New Zealand , Australia and Ireland over the next few months. Donna is very greatful to be able to be involved as part of the Te Akau team. She will keep her current horses and client base and blend them into the new barn.
Walker returns to New Zealand to fill gap left by HK-bound Richards
ELITE INVINCIBLEAPP K HAKIMM WALKER
Michael Lee, 17/12/2021
The bombshell was just dropped: Mark Walker is moving back to New Zealand to replace the Hong Kong-bound Jamie Richards at the Te Akau Stable.
The Singapore multiple-champion trainer just wrapped up a fourth premiership-winning season (after 2015, 2017 and 2019) and will not be around when racing resumes at the new 2022 season opener on January 2.
The 49-year-old bows out the winner of 685 races at Kranji, including 13 at Group level, the highlights being the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup (2000m) with Elite Invincible in 2018 and his other Group 1 success with the same horse in the Charity Bowl (1600m) five months earlier.
Mark Walker celebrates his biggest win in the Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup with Elite Invincible in 2018.
Walker revealed it was not his call to suddenly up stumps, but at the same time, it was a career development he relished given the new world we live in these days.
“It wasn’t my plan to leave but things have evolved so quickly with Jamie going to Hong Kong. It all came about so quickly,” he said.
“There were a few candidates in the mix for the training position in Hong Kong but we didn’t know until the last four weeks when things got clearer, and it’s only today that the Hong Kong Jockey Club confirmed about Jamie.
“It’s also a good timing for me as I haven’t seen two of my children (Zavier and Alexis) for two years. They are on the Gold Coast and it’s easier for them to travel to New Zealand with the easier regulations.
“We’ve all been suffering from the COVID-19 situation and it’ll be great to be finally closer to family and friends.”
Mark Walker rates Elite Invincible (seen here winning the 2018 Singapore Gold Cup with Benny Woodworth up) as the best horse he trained in Singapore.
A five-time champion trainer in New Zealand before he relocated to Singapore in 2010, Walker is also looking forward to going full circle to his former training base, but will also have to make sure the takeover of his Kranji operations goes smoothly.
“(Te Akau principal) David (Ellis) has a big team of horses and it’ll be exciting to go back to my hometown of Matamata to take over Jamie’s job. It’ll be the same horses as Jamie cannot take horses to Hong Kong as per the import protocols, he’s going there on his own, anyway,” he said.
“Donna Logan will take over the training of all the Te Akau and Fortuna New Zealand Racing horses in Singapore, and that’s a permanent move as both Te Akau and Fortuna are 100% committed to continuing racing in Singapore. I’m now working on the new trainers for the other horses.
“I haven’t set a date for my flight out of Singapore yet, but by next year when the new season starts, I’ll be at the Gold Coast buying yearlings for Te Akau.”
While the whirlwind decision does not seem to have sunk in yet, Walker was still having mixed feelings about the move, understandably s0, as he had really taken to Singapore in the last 11 years.
“I would still be training in Singapore if not for Jamie moving to Hong Kong. The Singapore Turf Club has been wonderful over the years, and I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me,” said Walker.
“I’ve won four champion trainer titles, which I’m very proud of. It’s been a lot of hard work, especially with COVID-19 in the last couple of years, it hasn’t been easy, and it wouldn’t have been possible without great staff that I will miss a lot, too.
“I would have liked to have had some better quality horses, but I can’t complain. The Singapore Gold Cup win was definitely my highlight and Elite Invincible is by far the best horse I have trained here.
“I’ll always have fond memories of my time here and the friends I have made. Singapore is a great country to live in, but family is important to me and it was good timing to go.”
While Walker is now busy with stable and staff transfer, one stable member may well join him for the New Zealand ride – just crowned champion senior and apprentice jockey Hakim Kamaruddin. If visa papers go through, his Malaysian stable apprentice jockey will join him at the mammoth Te Akau operations next year.