01 June 17 The Straits Times by IAN KIEW
There will not be a 10th champion trainers' title for Laurie Laxon in Singapore but the veteran handler will head home with nothing but fond memories of his time here.
The 71-year-old New Zealander has been a fixture at the Singapore Turf Club for the past 17 years and has also been its most successful trainer.
His 1,249 winners is a Singapore record and he has won every major feature race, including two Singapore Derbies and two Singapore Gold Cups, both Group 1 races.
Laxon has decided to return home later this year and continue training for lifelong friend Sir Peter Vela.
He said: "I'm grateful for the opportunity to train here and have met very good clients over the years.
"I've trained a lot of winners and paid a lot of income tax to the Government."
On Feb 12 last year, Laxon was inducted into the New Zealand racing Hall of Fame.
His two most successful horses - Better Than Ever and Waikato - have fetched a combined $5.5 million in prize money.
In addition, he won the 1988 Melbourne Cup and the 1993 Hong Kong International Cup.
THE PLEASURE AND THE PAIN
I've trained a lot of winners and paid a lot of income tax to the Government.
LAURIE LAXON, who has been named Singapore's top trainer nine times.
He won his first trainers' title in Singapore in 2004 and his last in 2014. But since then, he has not been able to add a 10th title.
Laxon currently sits in 11th spot on 17 winners. He also finished fourth and eighth in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Explaining his relative lack of success in recent years, he said: "I used to buy 20-30 new horses every year, but I've only bought one or two over the last two years."
Local trainer Alwin Tan, 48, said: "He's a very easygoing person, a low-profile guy who likes to joke around at morning track work and we respect him as an elder.
"He's a nine-time champion, of course I wanted to be like him. He's a top trainer in Singapore."
Tan, who was crowned the 2016 champion trainer at STC, also said that Singapore racing will "definitely miss" Laxon.
"He benefited racing in Singapore and we'll miss the way he trains, his friendliness and jokes."
Former jockey Saimee Jumaat, who recently received his training licence, said of Laxon: "We worked together very well and had a successful spell together.
"I've had so many wins for him in the past, but winning with Better Than Ever is the standout. We won 13 straight races with him.
"He's such an easy guy to work for, a champion trainer and person. It was a pleasure to ride for him."
Saimee, 45, had been hoping that Laxon would stay longer to help guide him.
"It's going to be a great loss, he's like a mentor trainer. I was asking questions (on training) even when I was riding. Sadly, he's moving on."