A Winning Combination
Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra officially joined forces in a training partnership in August 2009.
Underneath Mathew Ellerton’s quiet demeanour is a passionate, talented horseman who has channelled his energy into producing successful racehorses.
He doesn’t say much, preferring to let his career does the talking for him.
At a young age Mathew was introduced to the world of racing through a childhood friend who was a jockey but the interest in the sport soon grew to become a passion of preparing thoroughbreds.
Following his heart, he commenced his racing career in 1998, working for owner David Moodie at Hobsons Lodge. A series of events led to Moodie appointing Mathew to take the role of head trainer. Moodie believed in Ellerton’s abilities, quoting him as “a gun”, a title the young trainer quickly proved correct.
Mathew has gone from strength to strength training many successful horses at Hobsons Lodge, including the wonderful galloper Casual Pass, who many others had written off as a racehorse, Miss Kournikova, Spectatorial, Black Bean, Paint and Sunburnt Land, which could have been anything had a lightning strike not intervened.
In May 2009, Ellerton moved from Hobsons Lodge in Kensington, to Flemington Racecourse where he joined forces with fellow trainer Simon Zahra to form Ellerton Zahra Racing Stable.
Ellerton’s life work came to fruition in 2010 when he and Zahra landed the world’s richest two-year-old race, the Golden Slipper at Rosehill with the great sprinter Crystal Lily.
Mathew’s philosophy is to remain competitive. His training style is conservative and leans to the side of caution. He is a man of strong ethics and has a hands on approach, ensuring the well being of every horse in his care. He has a natural gift in the evaluation of young horses, adjusting their training accordingly, and providing owners with honest and unbiased feedback.
When one meets Simon Zahra, his enthusiasm and enjoyment of the sport becomes obvious. He loves his job, works hard, and he’s good at what he does. He thrives on the early mornings and the thrill people get out of his work.
Racing has been a part of Simon’s life since he was a teenager. A childhood friend and cousin of Mathew Ellerton, they would join Mathew’s neighbour, who was a jockey, and ride down to the stables on a weekend. Like Ellerton, Zahra quickly developed the drive required to succeed in our great sport.
Deferring his university degree, Simon started full time work in the stables and never returned to his studies. He worked for John and Wayne Hawkes for 12 years, progressing to become foreman of the huge Woodlands operation’s Melbourne Stable where he managed the role for a period of six years. During this time, Simon gained valuable experience and knowledge working with some of the most successful thoroughbreds in Australia.
In 2008, Simon obtained his trainer’s licence and trained Let Go Thommo for a Group 2 win in the 2008 Carlyon Stakes, and the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes in 2009. In August 2009 he joined Mathew Ellerton in a training partnership and established Ellerton Zahra Racing.
He has had several success and highlights to reflect upon during his racing career, working with such horses as the great Octagonal, Lohnro in his early years, and Strategic. He also notes the win of Casual Pass at the 2006 Yalumba Stakes at Caulfield as one of his memorable moments in racing, as well as the stable’s wonder Golden Slipper win with Crystal Lily.
Simon is set to experience many more challenges and success in racing, as an energetic, passionate and dedicated trainer and looks forward to many more years of great racing success.