Nine-time S'pore champion trainer Laxon, 75, dies in New Zealand

Laurie Laxon receiving his ninth Singapore Champion Trainer's Award in January 2015. It was for his premiership victory in 2014.
Laurie Laxon receiving his ninth Singapore Champion Trainer's Award in January 2015. It was for his premiership victory in 2014.ST FILE PHOTO

New Zealand Hall of Fame trainer and nine-time Singapore champion Laurie Laxon has died.

He was 75.

He is survived by his wife Sheila, sons Craig, Roger and John, and daughter Lucy.

New Zealand Bloodstock chairman Joe Walls, a near neighbour in his Coromandel seaside town of Whitianga, was quoted as saying that Laxon passed away in his sleep overnight.

"Laurie was an outstanding trainer and horseman, who was particularly skilled with fillies and mares," he said, in his tribute to his close friend.

"His astute horsemanship was noted by a number of successful breeders, most notably Peter and Philip Vela, and they had some great times together.

"When Laurie went to Singapore, he remained staunchly loyal to the New Zealand-bred and much of his success there was down to the horses he sourced from New Zealand."

Laxon, who won the 1988 Melbourne Cup with Empire Rose and the 1993 Hong Kong International Cup with Romanee Conti - both incidentally mares - relocated to Singapore in 2000.

He returned to continue his career in New Zealand in mid-2017.

In 17 years, the affable Kiwi saddled 1,263 winners - the highest by any Kranji-based trainer.

He won nine premierships - his first in 2004 and his last in 2014. He was second in 2001 and 2002.

He won practically all the major races, including two Singapore Gold Cups (Raul in 2004 and Recast in 2007) and two Singapore Derbies (Dreyfuss in 2004 and Top Spin in 2008).

"It's been a wonderful experience, but it's time to go while I'm still healthy. I've won nine champion trainer titles, won every feature race, except for the SIA Cup and the KrisFlyer - I've done it all," said the third-generation horseman, when he announced his decision to go back to continue training for his lifelong friend, Sir Peter Vela.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to train here and have met very good clients over the years. I've enjoyed my time in Singapore. I've had a great time and I'm very proud of what I achieved."

His staunch supporter, Phua Chian Kin of Oscar Racing Stable, was saddened by the loss of a good friend.

"He was a great horseman and an honourable man. We had so many successes together, including the major races. May he rest in peace," he said.

Former multiple-champion Singapore jockey Saimee Jumaat, who later became a trainer for a few years, felt the loss of a mentor.

"May his soul rest in peace. He was a great horseman and a pleasure to ride for. I've had so many wins for him, but Better Than Ever was the standout. We won 13 straight races with him," he said.

Better Than Ever and another Laxon-trained top galloper, Waikato, amassed a combined $5.5 million in prize money.

Former Kranji-based New Zealander Bruce Marsh was thankful to Laxon for his help when he relocated to Singapore.

"Laurie was the instigator of me going up to Singapore," Marsh, who is now retired in Cambridge, was quoted as saying.

"He was an immense help to every New Zealand and Australian expat who went up there - myself, Mark Walker, Cliffy Brown, Michael Freedman - all of us.

"He went out of his way to show us the ins and outs, and he was always there if you needed any help.

"Obviously, Laurie was a top-notch trainer. He will always be remembered for his huge success back home, in Australia and up in Singapore."

As a mark of respect, jockeys will wear black armbands and observe a minute of silence before the first race at Kranji tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2021, with the headline 'Nine-time S'pore champion trainer Laxon, 75, dies in New Zealand'. Subscribe