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Cups dream still alive for Laxon

5 July 2024

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By Glenn Davis and Andrew Smith

The dream of a Caulfield and Melbourne Cups bid remains for the training partnership of John Symons and Sheila Laxon if Knight’s Choice wins the Listed Caloundra Cup at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.

Laxon is famous for her training deeds with former champion Ethereal who claimed the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in 2001 following her Queensland Oaks triumph that year.

Laxon originally hoped for a Cox Plate campaign with Knight’s Choice in 2023 but a low rating forced the couple to abandon Melbourne plans.

Instead, he made a failed attempt for the $10 million Golden Eagle at Rosehill in which he finished in front of only four runners.

Knight’s Choice returns to his home track for the first time since finishing fourth in the Mooloolaba Cup over 1600 metres in November last year.

It is also the venue of the biggest win of his career when he scored a dominant win in the Group 3 Winx Guineas at the Sunshine Coast in 2023.

Knight’s Choice is yet to win in four starts at Stakes level this campaign but showed he was a strong stayer after finishing second over 2200 metres in the Group 2 Q22 and third in the Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup over 2400 metres at his past two starts.

Knight's Choice
John Symons & Sheila Laxon Next Racing
Mission Of Love
Winsome Star
Jaden Lloyd and Knight's Choice take out the 2023 Winx Guineas.

“It was a fantastic run in the Tatt’s Cup as he couldn’t get out at the right time and it was his first go over the trip,” Laxon said.

“It was a super run against Melbourne Cup horses and in the Q22 he was against a lot of European stayers and he flashed home late.

“It was a great run.”

Knight’s Choice was the subject of overseas offers as a three-year-old with connections rejecting a $2.3 million bid from Hong Kong following his Winx Guines triumph.

With rain predicted for most of the week, Laxon is hoping jockey Robbie Dolan can find firmer ground despite having placed on a heavy track at his only attempt.

“He’s got a lightning turn of foot and can stay all day,” she said.

“Although it’s likely to be a wet track if Robbie can find a good spot he’ll be hard to beat.

“It’s all in front of him but if he can win, he’ll spell and hopefully go to Melbourne for the spring.”

Knight's Choice and Sheila Laxon.

Laxon and Symons will also have Mission of Love go around in the Caloundra Cup.

The four-year-old is coming off the back of last week’s fourth placing in the Tattersall’s Gold Crown.

“I’m really happy with her too because she’s a very tenacious, tough candidate and I think her weight’s going to be a significant factor over the trip,” Laxon said.

“She probably hasn’t had the experience that he’s had in the big league but she’s tough, shes a female and she will try really hard.

“She might be a bit of a dark horse in the run again if she handles the track but that’s an unknown quantity.

“She’s been a very, very good horse that’s had a lot of bad luck with her feet and thing so she’s never been able to get to where we had anticipated she might be.

“I think come Saturday it’ll be a good testing place for her but wouldn’t surprise me at all if she finished well at the end.”

John Symons, Jaden Lloyd and Sheila Laxon celebrate the 2023 Winx Guineas win.

Winsome Star will also be looking to go back-to-back for the stable in the Winx Guineas.

The three-year-old is coming off the back of a gallant fifth in the Gunsynd Classic at Eagle Farm last month.

“The fact he ran so well in the Gunsynd, he was last turning for home and he’s run fifth and was a bit unlucky in the run,” Laxon said.

“So he can obviously see the trip out and the way he finished, he’s a stayer in the making too.

"He’s tough, he’s pretty solid, I think he’ll go well again if he handles the track.

“He’s had a lot of back luck…he’s been really unlucky not winning more races on the way through but we don’t care if he can win the Winx Guineas.

“I think people that have been following him will see he’s hard luck stories a lot of the time and if he got a free crack at them.”

Laxon said Saturday’s results would determine whether the stable trio are aimed at a spring campaign.

“That will be a bit of an indicator about whether we take them south come the spring, which would be fantastic,” she said.

“There’s some lovely fillies and mares races down in Melbourne for the spring for Mission Of Love, and there would be lots of things to target down there.

“If she goes well in the Caloundra Cup, who knows - you’ve got the 2000m mares race down there which would be right up her alley I imagine.

“That is a tremendous guideline you can do this up here in the winter and then you can target those races in the spring.”

The 2024 Queensland Racing Carnival wraps up with a nine-race card from Corbould Park.



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