For as long as he can remember Peter Ellis has had a passion for racing. His deep and abiding interest in industry has, over the last 30 years and more, provided his livelihood. During that time he has become one of the nation’s best known and most respected form assessors and track walkers. In addition, in more recent times, Peter has been a valuable member of trainer Darren Weir’s record-breaking team. He was onboard when Trust In A Gust registered the stable’s first Victorian Group 1 win in the Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield in 2015 and his tactical advice helped pave the way for Prince of Penzance’s Melbourne Cup triumph later that spring.
Since the beginning of the century he has further enhanced his reputation on the international scene by regularly attending meetings in Canada, Dubai, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa and the United States. “I would rate Sea The Stars, who won just about everything including the English Derby and Arc de Triomphe as a three-year-old in 2009, as the best horse I have seen,” Peter says. “Another of my notables is Street Cry.” “I was at Nad Al Sheba in 2002 when he won the Dubai World Cup and Street Cry has, of course, gone on to sire two truly remarkable race mares in Zenyatta and Winx.” “I would say that Zenyatta, who won 19 consecutive races before suffering a narrow defeat at her last start, as the most popular horse I have ever seen. “After she won the Breeders Cup Classic at Santa Anita in 2009 I went to the track the following and she was surrounded by about 10 television news cameras and a lot of reporters. “I have followed the career of High Chaparral closely after being at Epsom when he won The Derby and at The Curragh when he won the Irish Derby in 2002. “It is a tribute to High Chaparral that he went on to sire a lot of top performers including So You Think, who won two Cox Plates and enjoyed success overseas.”
Peter says that “locally” he places Kingston Town in the No.1 position. “Kingstown Town was a true weight-for-age performer, who had a brilliant turn of foot,” he says. “He showed that he could do virtually anything by easily winning the Sydney Cup as a three-year-old and then winning Cox Plates at four, five and six. “The present day champion Winx is obviously outstanding but I doubt whether the opposition she is meeting is up to the standard of the seventies and eighties.”
Peter can reflect even further back to seeing the exceptional Bart Cummings-trained stayer Galilee winning the 1966 Caulfield Cup on his way to victory in that year’s Melbourne Cup. He had been taken to the track by his father Robert, who was an avid sports fan. “Dad would take me to the city meetings,” Peter says. “I can remember we were in the Guineas stand at Caulfield when Galilee won the Cup. “There was a huge crowd and I was jumping up and down trying to see as much as I could. “Luckily I saw Galilee and Johnny Miller flashed past at about the 100m mark to beat Gala Crest and Pharaon. “That’s how I started out and later I became more involved.”
As a 17 and 18-year-old be began going to the races every Saturday, on the train, with a group of friends. They would continue on to the harness racing at the Melbourne Showground and, for extra, measure Peter would attend the greyhound meetings at Olympic Park and Sandown on a Monday and Thursday nights. “I was good at mathematics and when I started betting I was able to quickly work out what odds the horses should be and compare my figures with the odds available,” he says. “I was gathering information and knowledge all away along the line. “People were coming to know me and in the late eighties I was approached by representatives from newspaper and radio stations on the Morning Peninsula, where I live, to provide tips and a racing coverage.” That led through to him joining Bet Busters, which has since morphed into the Racenet online site.
Then in the mid-1990s he began providing a tipping service for the Brisbane-based RadioTAB, going live into Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Over the last decade he has had stints on the Melbourne dailies, The Age and The Sun, providing speed maps, comments and tips during the Spring Carnival and on feature races he has attended around the world. With such an expansive background, Peter who watches anything up to 2,500 races live each year and studies replays for hours and hours each day, is currently launching his own website.
Titled Peter Ellis Racing the website will provide tips, last minute updates, after he has walked tracks and identified the day’s racing pattern, as well as news stories. “It is an exciting project and I have very good people working with me,” he says. “I am already confident that it is going to be a success.”
Words by Graeme Kelly.