NZB Pays Tribute to Laurie Laxon

23 July 2021

As the thoroughbred industry mourns the loss of Hall of Fame trainer Laurie Laxon, New Zealand Bloodstock would like to reflect on the legendary trainer’s illustrious career, spanning over decades and across multiple continents.

Hong Kong Cup celebrations after an emphatic Romanee Conti (NZ) win in the feature.

Raised from humble beginnings in the mighty Waikato, Laxon began his racing vocation as an amateur rider before establishing a training stable near Ngaruawahia just outside of Hamilton.

From there, Laxon gained reputable influence as one of New Zealand’s leading trainers, forming a special relationship with NZB Principal, Sir Peter Vela and his late brother Philip.

Attributing to his early success, Laxon’s path crossed with the Velas as they began to establish their boutique thoroughbred operation now known as Pencarrow Stud.

A relationship that began in the early 1970s and developed into a lifelong friendship is something that Sir Peter Vela has remembered in the days since Laxon’s death.

“It’s with a great deal of sorrow and a very heavy heart that I reflect on Laurie’s passing this week,” commented Sir Peter Vela.

“He was a great pal and partner for the past 50 years brought about by a common interest in horses. An interest which took us on a wonderful journey from our first runner at Rotorua to our first Group winner at Hastings. From Gisborne to Royal Ascot, Melbourne to Sha Tin and a Hong Kong Cup with Romanee Conti. And then of course Singapore.

“He was a wonderful person and an incredible horseman and I very much look forward to celebrating his life with his friends and family,” he added.

A spirited bidder, Laxon was a renowned face at NZB’s major sales, purchasing a string of horses from the grounds at Karaka each year.

Laurie Laxon with great friend & NZB Chairman, Joe Walls comparing notes at Karaka.

“The first time I met Laurie was back in the day when he was setting up his own racing stables,” commented NZB Chairman and long-time friend of Laxon, Joe Walls.

“Initially he was keen to get involved in the Ready to Run Sale as a way of making a name for himself, so for two or three seasons, we helped him amass horses from the sales that he prepared and broke in.

“The major thing that got him on his way was forming a relationship with Sir Peter and Philip Vela, who, at the time, were setting up Pencarrow Stud.

“The Vela brothers’ were keen on racing fillies, which coincided with Laurie establishing his knack for training fillies and mares.”

Laxon was an avid supporter of the New Zealand-bred horse, remaining unfalteringly loyal to NZB until his death.

“He was brilliant. He was a great supporter of New Zealand horses and all the horses he bought came out of our sales,” said NZB’s Director of Business Development and friend of Laxon, Mike Kneebone.

“He had huge success with horses from our Ready to Run sale. It was through his support and success that we got a foothold in Singapore, so we’re forever grateful to him.

“He was a great friend and he’ll be sadly missed,” said Kneebone.

Leaving his kiwi career behind, he went on to build a racing empire on his own account after relocating to Singapore, where he conquered the country’s training ranks and accumulated more than 1250 wins at Kranji racecourse.

“He was a good trainer who had a knack of being able to prepare a horse for a race. He shone because he could see a long way out and he always planned well,” commented Walls.

“He wasn’t just a man that trained horses in New Zealand, he become recognised all around the world as a top trainer.

“He made friends easily when he moved up to Singapore and was always playing practical jokes on his friends at the Singapore Turf Club.

“Laurie was a guy who had a great sense of humour, was always telling a story and will be remembered by many for his wit and kind heart,” he said.

Laxon was inducted into the time-honoured New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame in 2016 and returned to New Zealand in 2017, residing in the Coromandel up until his passing.

Laurie Laxon is survived by his sons Craig, Roger and John, and daughter Lucy.