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Laxon wins, but the equine version

Unlike his famous namesake, Darci Brahma 3YO just tasted his first success in Malaysia

To hear that Laxon is not a maiden any more since May 18 will sound strange to Singapore racegoers.

It is not only an anachronism, but it also feels like one of those cheeky conundrums the late legendary trainer Laurie Laxon was famous for.

For a start, he already boasted a raft of wins, including a Melbourne Cup (1988 with Empire Rose), under his belt when he moved from his native New Zealand to Kranji in 2000.

More notably, he went on to annex nine Singapore champion trainer titles, courtesy of a bumper haul of 1,263 winners, including 17 at Group 1 level.

He retired in 2017 and returned to New Zealand where he died on July 15, 2021.

Three years after his passing at the age of 75, his name now lives on through a horse named Laxon.

It is not quite at the place he has called home for 17 years, but close – Malaysia, where he did snag a Penang Gold Cup with Expunge and the MRA Cup with Why Be in 2006.

Laxon is a Darci Brahma three-year-old who broke through for his first win at his seventh start under apprentice Fikri Ismail in an Open Maiden 1,200m event at Kuala Lumpur on May 18.

A glimpse at his owner and trainer is a giveaway to the reason behind the homage paid to his illustrious namesake.

He is trained by Laxon’s former assistant Shane Ellis and is raced by one of his staunchest owners from Day 1, Phua Chian Kin of Oscar Racing Stable.

The Perth horseman heads only a small team of three horses (three-time winner Misty Swift and former Kranji galloper King’s Command), but quipped that his “old boss” would still take credit for that rare moment in the sun.

“Laurie would probably say he helped get this one home, if he was looking down from above,” said Ellis, who was at his second 2024 win, but 39th overall since plying his trade in Kuala Lumpur in 2018.

“I actually got this horse from his old mate (ex-Kranji trainer) Bruce Marsh in New Zealand.

“CK rang me one day and asked me if I can find a cheap horse.

“I contacted Bruce and he said, you know what mate, I may have one for you.

“His son Stephen trained him and Bruce said he was a lovely horse but immature, and he would not measure up in New Zealand.

“He said he should go okay in Malaysia. We paid only NZ$10,000 (S$8,250) for him from The Oaks Stud.”

Ellis said the naming was a no-brainer given Oscar’s well-known habit of giving celebrity monikers like Streisand, Dreyfuss, Mr Clint or Mr Hanks, his last winner in the famous yellow-and-blue spots in Malaysia.

“CK said we had to find a new name. I said why don’t we call him Laxon?” said Ellis.

“He said that was a good name, and a great chance to name a horse in Laxon’s honour.”

Now that the first win is out of the way, Ellis hopes Laxon will develop the same appetite for victories as the first Kranji trainer to hit the century mark in 2004.

Laxon’s versatility distance-wise certainly gives him a few more options going forward.

“He was beaten only ½-length over 1,700m last time. The winner (Mainstream) has won his last four,” said Ellis.

“He got to the front and couldn’t finish the job. I gave him a freshen-up and dropped him back in distance to 1,200m.

“He’s had visors on him, but he was not concentrating. When he sees another horse, he pulls up.

“Stephen fitted him with blinkers in New Zealand. So I decided to try that too, and it’s paid off.

“He’s still learning as he’s still a three-year-old.”

Laxon is currently the only Oscar Racing horse left after their top horse Mr Malek died in December.

Ellis said he hoped his breakthrough will not just entice Phua in opening his wallet, but other owners as well.

“It’s hard to get horses. CK said he might buy another one,” said Ellis, who also has two unregistered two-year-olds waiting in the wings.

“Singapore is closing, but I haven’t really had any owner or trainer approach me. Hopefully, I can get more support.”

manyan@sph.com.sg

HORSE RACING