Lee Freedman Champion Race Horse Trainer
Lee Freedman Inducted Into Australian Racing Hall Of Fame 2003
Lee Freedman: Of the key figures in the sport of horse racing, thoroughbreds, jockeys and trainers, it is typically trainers who can accumulate the biggest numbers with regard to statistics.
It is not unheard of for a sought after trainer to have multiple contenders in one race; not even Kingston Town or Roy Higgins were capable of that feat, despite the fact that with those two, it sometimes seemed the case.
So it is with this racing reality in mind that we examine a trainer who despite the statistical advantages he enjoys over the jockeys he retains or the horses he prepares, does more than adequately when compared to the other men and women who have done well in the vocation of a trainer.
Our Subject Will Be None Other Than David Lee Freedman
Freedman was the son of Anthony and Estelle Freedman of Sydney. He was born in the spring of 1956.
Lee’s interest in horses was the result of his father switching from a career in real estate to one of a horse breeder.
Lee Freedman was exposed at an early age and was soon immersed in the carnival atmosphere of racing to the extent that university studies could not hold his interest. He left Australian National University after a short time and returned home to help operate the family stud farm in southern NSW.
This was not to his liking either, and he and his brother started a small training operation at Warwick Farm racecourse. Shortly after, they relocated their stable to Sydney’s Randwick, where Lee obtained boarding and living facilities from Bart Cummings.
His first taste of success was with a filly named Sauna that posed eight victories and almost took the Group 1 Thousand Guineas Stakes, and a horse named Affected.
It was Miss Clipper that provided Freedman with his first Group 1 win in the 1986 SAJC Australasian Oaks at Morphettville.
Three years later, and this is where our observation about trainers being able to enjoy multiple opportunities in one event come into play, Freedman prepared not only the winner, Tawriffic, but also the second place runner, Super Impose, in the 1989 Melbourne Cup. Tawriffic also offered 30/1 odds in the race after earlier bringing up the rear, finishing second-last, in the Caulfield Cup. In winning the Melbourne Cup, Tawriffic posted the third fastest time in the lengthy history of the race.
During the early and mid-90s, Freedman was unavoidable. He trained winners in Group 1 races at all distances and added two more Melbourne Cup wins in 1992 courtesy of Subzero and in 1995 with Doriemus doing the running after earlier taking the Caulfield Cup, supplying a rare double.
Perhaps equally as impressive, Lee Freedman won the Golden Slipper Stakes four times, beginning in 1993 with Bint Marscay and concluding in 1996 with Merlene
Super Impose 1992 Cox Plater
Another impressive feat was when he managed to squeeze one last major victory out of an 8-year-old Super Impose in the 1992 Cox Plate.
Now that his credentials as a trainer have been established, with even greater feats to follow, we must digress for the obligatory, or so it would seem, controversy that seems to go hand-in-hand with high performance and horse racing.
Seemingly oblivious to the dim view racing officials have regarding ring-ins, Freedman was caught in the act in 1995 when he was asked to run a barrier trial to determine Central Express’s ability to jump whilst wearing blinkers for the first time. He rang-in Spanish Reign to successfully qualify Central Express. The horse won easily the next day, but Freedman’s subterfuge was discovered.
The best defense Lee Freedman could offer on his own behalf was that he was concerned over the possibility that the barrier trial may have left Central Express flattened for the race, but that was not sufficient to ward off a four-month suspension
That suspension was served and behind in in time for Freedman’s jockey Damien Oliver and horse Doriemus to take the 1995 Melbourne Cup, although Freedman would credit his brother Anthony for supplying a major contribution to the effort.
Not exactly permanently reformed, Lee Freedman was engaged in similar shenanigans the following year when his horse Encosta De Lago was discovered with excessive amounts of performance enhancing bicarbonate in his system.
That time frame saw Freedman’s productivity to decline somewhat, if having only 15 Group 1 race winners from 1997 to 2003 could so be fairly called a decline.
Melbourne Cup Wins For Lee Freedman
Major redemption arrived in 2004 when David Hall was relieved of training duties after having won the 2003 Melbourne Cup with Makybe Diva and her owners replaced him with Freedman.
It would have to be said that although it is sometimes the case that a competent trainer can turn a moderately talented horse into a top performer, it would seem in Makybe Diva’s case that Freedman was the main beneficiary in this instance, with absolutely no slight intended toward Freeman.
His previous results earned him the job, and it must be said that he made the most of it, preparing the fine staying mare for a BMW win, along with the Australian Cup and the Cox Plate, and of course, her second and third Melbourne Cups in 2004 and 2005.
At the current point in time, it would seem as though the ledger is just about ready to be closed on the training career of David Lee Freedman. His accomplishments include, besides the numerous victories, six runner-up finishes in the Melbourne premiership to nicely back his five first place finishes in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Lee Freedman established a mark that will in all probability remain intact well into the future by winning the Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate and Golden Slipper in one season.
Late in 2012, he shocked the racing world by announcing that he was abandoning Sydney and returning to Melbourne.
This came following an equally shocking announcement that he was retiring just a year prior, followed shortly thereafter by the perplexing decision that he was initiating a connection with New Zealand’s Graeme Rogerson. It appears that even trainers of Freedman’s stature are not immune from a late mid-life crisis.
Lee Freedman was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2003, one of the select group of 32 trainers to date that have been awarded that honour.