Friday, September 10, 2010


Eliza Park’s General Manager Racing, Sue Ellis, is a Group One winning trainer and a favoured (adopted) daughter of Melton’s thriving horse industry.
Trainer of Daria’s Fun, who raced in the 1987 Melbourne Cup (obviously Sue was a teenager at the time!), Ms Ellis was asked by the Melton Weekly magazine to dig into her memory bank for its Melbourne Cup feature.
The following flows from the keyboard of Meg Sobey:

IT may be only be a few minutes of thumping hooves and hearts, but for Sue Ellis the Melbourne Cup is all about patience.
Twenty-three years ago she held her breath while Daria’s Fun, a horse she has trained, galloped down the home straight at Flemington Racecourse in 1987. Though the mare finished eighth as Kensei powered to victory, the experience was unbeatable … almost.
“It’s a life-time dream,” Ms Ellis says. “The only thing better would be winning it.”
Living in the home of harness racing in Toolern Vale, she is always been within the equestrian world. A former competitive show-jumper, she started putting horses through their paces on the track for extra cash back in her homeland New Zealand.
‘‘Once I was known as an experienced rider I used to get sent horses for re-education.
“I got asked to train a problem horse that ended up winning a race, and I guess I was hooked after that.’’
Now the general manager of racing at Eliza Park stud in the Macedon Ranges, she works with young thoroughbreds at the beginning of their careers.
The stud’s motto is Winning Starts Here.
Each year 150 yearlings are broken-in at the stud, both those bred on the farm and those sent to the stables by trainers in the city, such as high profile Mick Price and Mike Moroney.
While Eliza Park has not been represented in the Melbourne Cup in her time, it is hardly surprising.
‘‘The reality is very few horses make the field,” Ms Ellis says. “Only 22 horses line up. So the odds of getting a runner in the Melbourne Cup are really slight.’’
In addition, horses are not often bred specifically for distance races such as the Melbourne Cup.
“Everyone wants a horse to race as a two-year-old because that is [the owners] best chance of getting some money back fast. But they are sprinters, whereas staying horses need to be stronger and more mature. Most Melbourne Cup horses come into their best at four, five, six, even older. You have to give them time.”
Ms Ellis still has hopes of again putting a horse in the starting gates on the first Tuesday in November.
She inherited Daria’s Fun’s daughter Daria's Debut and has bred her progeny ever since, including great-grandson Kate Loves Jack and great-grandaughter Belle's Gold.
“They are both winners, but neither of them has gone anywhere near what Daria’s Fun showed,” she says. “At some stage that family will bob up again with another good stayer, I’m sure. I am waiting for them.”

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