Waikato proves a real find for Laxon
Laurie Laxon didn't have to be Einstein to realise straight away there was a problem.
'I'd gone to the sales in New Zealand for this guy and bought, and paid for, three horses. When I got back, I called him and he said, 'But I only want one now',' the Singapore-based trainer of Waikato recalled. 'So this guy takes one and says he knows I'll find owners for the others. And then one of them got a cyst on a stifle, so now I'm not going to find anyone at all to buy him.'
And on Sunday at Sha Tin, the problem horse that Laxon was forced to keep for himself, and has since won 12 out of 20 races, will aim up to a serious payback day in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint. 'I own him - 100 per cent. I never did manage to find another owner for him, so it has worked out all right. I didn't know what to call him but he's from Waikato Stud and I'm from Waikato in New Zealand, so that seemed as good as any,' grinned the Melbourne Cup-winning trainer.
'There's a form line there through the KrisFlyer Sprint, when he ran fourth to Takeover Target, that gives him a chance in the race and I reckon he's improved since then. He's won four out of five and taken over as the best sprinter in Singapore.'
Taken over from Laxon-trained Why Be, who finished down the track behind Sacred Kingdom in the same race last year, but Waikato is at a different stage of his career.
'Why Be probably needed to be here a year earlier. This horse has come at the right time, while he's still on the up,' Laxon said. 'And Why Be had never been this way around and didn't handle it. This horse is in the same boat as far as experience, but he's a very agile sort of a horse and I think it will be less of a problem for him to adjust. He was a bit starry-eyed when he came out the first time on Monday but he was better Tuesday and improving all the time.'
A Hong Kong international win would not be a first for Laxon, who was still based in New Zealand when he prepared Romanee Conti to win the Cup in 1994, but he isn't under any illusions about the task ahead: 'I don't know whether we can win or not, but it's just great to be here.'