Historic day for Warwick area racing
A MELBOURNE Cup winning trainer will start a horse at Allman Park for the first time in more than a century of racing in Warwick.
Sheila Laxon trained Ethereal to win the Caulfield and Melbourne cup double in 2001 and will be in Warwick for the Boxing Day races on Monday.
While Laxon and her partner and co-trainer John Symons will start four horses in various races, the major reason for the trip to Warwick is to start Irish Constabulary in the Olsens Produce/Freestone Feedlot Magic Millions Country Cup Qualifier Open Handicap over 1200m.
She was the first woman to have officially trained a Melbourne Cup winner but she acknowledged that Granny McDonald from New Zealand won the cup in 1938 with Catalogue.
"Women couldn't be trainers so her husband was down as the trainer,” Laxon said.
Like the 1938 cup trainer, Laxon brought Ethereal across the ditch from New Zealand for the Spring Carnival.
She returned to New Zealand after her cup win and then returned to Victoria a year later with more horses and stayed.
"Training a cup winner totally changed my life. The win opened a huge number of doors. I proved if you have the right animal you can win these types of races.
Laxon might have been on top of the world after winning the cup but life can have its downside as well.
"I was in a wheelchair for 18 months after a fall doing trackwork on Acclaim at Macedon Lodge,” she said.
"I am starting Laudit in Warwick on Monday and he owes me as it was his mother I was riding when I fell at Macedon Lodge.
"Laudit is a special horse for me, he is a good looker, arrogant and has a real opinion of himself.”
She makes no secret of the fact $30,000 prize money for the Country Cup and a $20,000 bonus if the winner is a Magic Millions horse attracted the couple to Warwick.
"Irish Constabulary is a Magic Millions horses and we want to qualify for the Country Cup on Magic Millions day at the Gold Coast,” she said.
The eight-year-old gelding has won four of his past 10 starts, including a win on Friday night at the Sunshine Coast.
She isn't worried about the age of the horse.
"He had a five-year break from racing so will be able to race as long as they will let him,” she said.
Laxon is happy to be coming to Warwick with a dash of history.
"It is good for the women in the industry to see women can win races like the Melbourne Cup,” she said.
"You never know when a horse will come along to win those sort of races.”
Top Sydney trainer Bjorn Baker has also nominated a horse in the Country Cup.
See Warwick and three-state form for Boxing Day in tomorrow's Daily News print edition.