Kauri guides Royal Flower to victory at Woodville

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To say apprentice has been through a lot in the last couple of years would be an understatement.

The 24-year-old rider was absent from the winner's stall for almost three years before his victory aboard Royal Flower at on Sunday in the Murray Contractors & Quotation Foodtrailer (1400m), and he has faced several challenges in that time.

“It has been about three years since my last win and I have had four surgeries,” he said.

“They found a hole in my heart. I was born with it, but they didn't know about it until after a fall I had and they gave me a scan. I had surgery and now I am fitter than I have ever been.

“It's been close to 12 months (since the surgery), but it has taken about six months to get my fitness back.

“I also had other injuries – I had to get plates put into my wrist and a rod taken out of my leg, there have been a whole lot of surgeries since my last win.”

Sunday's victory was a tonic for Laurie, who said he almost forgot what it was like to win a race, and he was delighted to capture that feeling once more aboard the -trained Royal Flower, which was apt given he rode his first winner for the Foxton trainer.

“I had a gallop on the horse a few days earlier and I knew she could handle a tougher run than most,” he said.

“With it being so long, it almost felt like getting my first win again. I forgot what it felt like and if it would even happen again.”

Kauri is enjoying being back in the saddle, but it wasn't a vocation he has always been particularly fond of, even with a jockey turned trainer father in Paddy Kauri.

“My Dad was a jockey,” he said.

“I didn't like horses until I left high school, and I didn't ride until I was about 18 or 19.

“My first job was with and , and they wanted me to go and learn a bit more, I didn't even know how to put a head collar on, so I then went to my current boss, , and learned how to ride.”

Kauri is hoping he will quickly add to his win when he heads to 's synthetic meeting on Thursday where he will ride two horses for his employer.

“I have got two booked for Thursday – Justaskpercy, who has been very consistent and is looking to win on the synthetic, and Doubtful , who is coming up to 1400m which is his ideal trip,” he said.

“I have enjoyed some of the synthetic racing. The track seems to play pretty fair, they come off the front and from behind a lot of the time, but it obviously comes down to the pace they went.”

While Kauri said he is taking things in his stride with his return, he still holds major aspirations.

“I have always wanted to be Champion Apprentice but there are a lot of good apprentices there at the moment,” he said.

“I am just trying to chip away and let things happen.”

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