Bravo, Lee Freedman

Newly crowned Singapore champion trainer Lee Freedman looks forward to "more great Singapore racing".
Newly crowned Singapore champion trainer Lee Freedman looks forward to "more great Singapore racing".ST PHOTO: SALWA SUANDI

Australian Hall of Famer captures Singapore champion trainer's title in his first season at Kranji with 67 winners

There is no substitute for class and Australian Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman proved just that in his first season in Singapore.

Although he started a bit slow, the 62-year-old gathered momentum as the season progressed to capture the champion trainer's title with 67 winners, eight clear of Shane Baertschiger, who appeared to have every chance right up until the final month. The 2018 Kranji season concluded last Sunday.

It was indeed a second coming for Freedman. The winner of seven Melbourne champion trainer titles had seen his star dim in the last few years which saw him retire, make comebacks in partnership with his brothers, as well as stints as a racing consultant.

With his career becoming a little stale, a golden opportunity beckoned. Freedman jumped at a fresh start at Kranji, replacing nine-time Singapore champion trainer Laurie Laxon, who was heading back to his native New Zealand.

Freedman did not spring out of the starting blocks as most would have expected, but the five-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer really hit the ground running this year, especially in the second half.

Tied in a close battle with Baertschiger and, to a lesser extent, Michael Clements, who did well to finish third with 54 winners, Freedman slowly drew clear in the last month or so, courtesy of arguably a more homogeneous string of horses across the board.

Freedman, who won two feature races - the Group 2 Chairman's Trophy over 1,600m with Circuit Land and the Group 1 Singapore Guineas over 1,600m with Mr Clint - said that supreme reward was the fruit of teamwork, coupled with the application of his core training system and a few tweaks to suit the new jurisdiction's characteristics.

"It's great to be crowned champion trainer in Singapore. We had set out to achieve that this year," said Freedman, whose younger brother Michael often finished in the top five during his nine years at Kranji (2008 to 2016). Michael came closest in 2012 when tied with Laxon, but took second place on a countback for seconds.

"It's been difficult but, overall, we've had a good year which is also thanks to the staff. Some of them were inexperienced, but we've learnt together.

"When I just got here, we had to acclimatise and get to know the horses and train them. In essence, I used the same routine and the same system I've always had, for example the same feeding, but I also had to very much train them horse by horse.

"I probably had to shorten their workouts as they tend to be more on the pace here, there was a lot of swimming. It's worked out terrific.

"And, last but not least, a big 'thank you' also to all my owners. The backbone of my support is made up mainly of Thai, Hong Kong and local owners, and we couldn't have done it without them."

When asked about his plans now that the first Singapore crown is tucked away, Freedman's answer could not have been more candid.

"More great Singapore racing," he said.


Friday's South Africa results

RACE 1

1st 10 Seattle Choice ($8-$5.10)

2nd 9 Highland Hero ($7)

3rd 1 In The Navy ($9)

4th 6 The Donegal Man

Forecast $4 Place Forecast (9-10) $2.50, (1-10) $6, (1-9) $8

Tierce $20 Trio $7 Quartet $82

Scratchings: 4 Mr T, 8 Hartleyseven

RACE 2

1st 10 Afleet Flyer ($196-$61)

2nd 14 Melandia ($8)

3rd 1 Malinda ($8)

4th 3 Desert Wanderer

Forecast $249 Place Forecast (10-14) $83, (1-10) $47, (1-14) $9

Tierce $1,628 Trio $382

Quartet No winner ($264 jacpot carried forward to next race)

RACE 3

1st 6 Lloyd George ($10-$7)

2nd 7 Believethisbeauty ($7)

3rd 3 Mindmymooood (No 3rd dividend)

4th 2 Little Drummer Boy

Forecast $4 Place Forecast Refund Tierce $14 Trio $5

Quartet $24

Scratching: 4 Classic Bid

RACE 4

1st 9 March Music ($11-$7)

2nd 2 Sassy Lady ($10)

3rd 7 Klever Kathy ($8)

4th 6 Cloud Atlas

Forecast $29 Place Forecast (2-9) $10, (7-9) $5, (2-7) $13

Tierce $81 Trio $17 Quartet $406

RACE 5

1st 5 Boldness ($29-$9)

2nd 3 Hither Green ($11)

2nd 7 Hippie Trail ($6)

4th 4 Great Sound

Forecast (3-5) $34, (5-7) $11

Place Forecast (3-5) $17, (5-7) $8, (3-7) $13 Tierce (5-3-7) $232, (5-7-3) $182 Trio $92

Quartet (5-3-7-4) no winner, (5-7-3-4) $323

RACE 6

1st 5 Sheet Weaver ($66-$14)

2nd 8 Lucky Lulu ($14)

3rd 4 My World ($18)

4th 7 Grandissimo

Forecast $152 Place Forecast (5-8) $28, (4-5) $39, (4-8) $27

Tierce No winner ($5,616 carried forward) Trio $270 Quartet No winner ($520 carried forward)

RACE 7

1st 10 Gun Hill ($80-$23)

2nd 5 Country Rock ($9)

3rd 1 Seattle Swing ($11)

4th 6 Humble Addict

Forecast $83 Place Forecast (5-10) $22, (1-10) $39, (1-5) $15

Tierce $4,131 Trio $230

Quartet No winner ($1,074 carried forward)

Scratching: 12 Pocket Rocket

RACE 8

1st 3 Strawberry Girl ($42-$11)

2nd 9 Bushy Park ($22)

3rd 2 Candy Crush ($9)

4th 14 Cassini

Forecast $92 Place Forecast (3-9) $33, (2-3) $14, (2-9) $24

Tierce $407 Trio $86 Quartet No winner ($1,466 carried forward)

Result of Race 9 was not available at press time. Log on to www.turfclub.com.sg for the results.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2018, with the headline 'Bravo, Lee Freedman'. Print Edition | Subscribe