Author(s): Mike Dillon
The Empire Strikes is the tale of the well-known Melbourne Cup winner and one of the world's finest horse trainers, New Zealander Laurie Laxon. While most winners come from horse stock, Laurie Laxon was an apprentice builder in Ngaruawahia. To come from that background to become one of the world's finest horse trainers is astonishing. On the way he won every one of New Zealand's major races, a number of them multiple times, and became Singapore's champion trainer a stunning nine years running. It wasn't a boring journey. Laurie overcame financial difficulties to become a multi-millionaire, coped with a potentially fatal flight from New Zealand to Australia on a horse charter aircraft, and battled with racing's stewards, on the reverse side he refused to allow the grief of his wife being killed by a drunk driver destroy him.
When challenged in a round-table discussion on day a hard case raconteur said: "This is all true you know - you can't make this stuff up." Laurie Laxon's stories fit exactly into that category.
If you'd never seen a horse race you wouldn't believe the incredible Cups King Bart Cummings failed to win a Melbourne Cup with empir Rose, but that Laurie would take the giant New Zealand mare over, have her finish second in her first Cup attempt for him then win the Southern Hemisphere's greatest race a year later in 1988.
Laurie Kevin Laxon has never been one to sit on his hands and boastfully look back. He's always been more interested in tomorrow than yesterday. AS the Irishman once said "You must go ahead, even if it's arse over head."
Which is why Laurie graduated from a Ngaruawahia horse breaker to become one of New Zealand's finest thoroughbred trainers, winnning practically all of New Zealand's iconic events, a number many times. As well as the difficult Hong Kong International Cup with Romanee Conti.
Unsatisfied, he re-located to Singapore and produced a record nine straight Singaporean trainers' premierships. Only true champions do that.
Hugely experienced journalist Mike Dillon, who lived some of those times with Laurie, was probably ideal to write this biography. He hopes that he has caught the incredible moments of a star-studded career in the vein in which they occurred.
It is a truly remarkable story.