Training great Laurie Laxon is heading home to continue his career. The New Zealand Racing Hall of Famer has dominated Singapore racing for the past 17 years, winning nine premierships and more than 1,250 races at Kranji Racecourse, but he has decided it’s time to pull up stumps on the island nation.
He will return to his Maungatautari farm in Waikato, where Stephen Ramsay and Julia Ritchie are currently training, and prepare a team of 30 to 40 horses solely for Sir Peter Vela, owner of Eminent, one of the leading fancies for Saturday’s Epsom Derby.
It will be the revival of a once formidable trainer-owner partnership that led to wins in races as important as the Hong Kong International Cup and with a long list of high quality performers, the like of Noble Heights, Romanee Conti and Clear Rose that Laxon produced for Sir Peter and his late brother Philip.
“I’ll probably be home by September and I’ll train from my farm, just for Peter Vela,” Laxon said. “I’ve been in Singapore 17 years and it was just time. I’ve had a good innings up here and enjoyed a really good income. I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to achieve here.”
Laxon has won every feature race on the Singapore calendar at least once and some as many as six times, most notably winning the Kranji Mile and Chairman's Trophy five times each, four Singapore Guineas, Queen Elizabeth II Cups and Patron’s Bowls and twice claiming the Singapore Derby and Singapore Gold Cup.
He has prepared the Singapore Horse of the Year on five occasions and was the first trainer to win 100 races in a season and the first trainer to win 1,000 races there.
Laxon, who produced Empire Rose to win the 1988 Melbourne Cup, has yet to decide when his stable will close, but still has his eye on upcoming Singapore features and will continue to race horses there with other trainers after he returns to New Zealand.
“I haven’t given them a finishing date yet. They asked me to stay, but the time has come for me to move on,” Laxon said, adding that he was still hungry to train feature winners.
“Peter has got some lovely fillies to work with back home. I just want to train Group winners.”
Ramsay and Ritchie will relocate to a new property owned by Sir Peter Vela and continue to train for the Pencarrow Stud owner as well.