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August 1 is horses birthday & first day back for Richard Freedman as a trainer

Ric Chapman in Interviews 1 Aug 2016
  • Richard Freedman is the last of the self-imposed exiled Freedmans back in the game.
  • His licence was granted today, 1 August
Richard Freedman

August 1 is a significant day in Australian horse racing.

We all know why.

And while this isn't quite as moving news, it may prove to be a day that moves the racing paradigm a little....yet again.

Today, the last of the displaced Freedmans, Richard, is back in the training game after being granted a trainers licence. He will base his team out of Hawkesbury, in NSW.

His comeback marks the return of Freedman Incorporated, the Bros Four who dominated Aussie racing with such a grip and stranglehold that everyone had to change their ways in order to compete.

Richard is the second eldest of the Freedman clan.

Big brother Lee is the oldest of the racing boys (there is another brother called Mark), followed by Anthony next in line and young Michael is the fourth.

"I'm not suggesting we will ever all get back to the days we had when winning all those Melbourne Cups and Golden Slippers, but Michael asked me to come and train and help him, and I was missing the horses, so here I am," Richard said.

It's a fair comment to make - that of not sure they'll get back to those halcyon days when five Melbourne Cups were won, a few Caulfield Cups, a swag of Golden Slippers and pretty much anything else of value.

That incredible success just could not last and diversification after 20 years on top was inevitable for the Freedman boys.

Anthony wanted to train on his own and perhaps design the odd golf course.

Lee wanted to just relax away from the sport. Michael went to Singapore to ply his trade alone and Richard went into the media.

All succeeded.

That's the hallmark of this richly gifted family.

Their original success came because necessesity called. They lost their father in 1984, and being left with bills, along with a need to feed themselves, and to pay for their handicapped brother Mark, the boys decided to train horses.

They didn't know a great deal at the start, or have any clients, but their desire was strong.

"And I think we succeeded in the end because we didn't do things conventionally. We looked at horses in a different way, but we knew animals. We came from a farming background."

"I think we were the first, long before Gai (Waterhouse) came along, who actively marketed ourselves to clients too," remembers Richard.

"We fed differently to other trainers. We adapted our own training style, we put systems in place to train winners that were unique and it worked."

It certainly did as champion upon champion were produced.

During his time with the clan, Richard rates SUPER IMPOSE as his favourite, MAKYBE DIVA as the best but his caveat to all the above was NATURALISM. "He was soooo good. He could pull a cart and beat Super Impose who was a very good horse in his own right."

In the end, all that success just whet appetites within the Bros to scale other mountains.

That's life.

The quartet split at the height of their powers, and it has taken over a decade out of the sport by the brothers at various times, until now - where on this day, they are all back in it.

Their reforms replaced old ideology for training, owner communications, with an emphasis on marketing their brand with the over-riding purpose of new economic legitimacy. 

They made money for themselves and their owners. That's what they set out to do and what they delivered.

And Richard Freedman was a major, major part of the Freedman cadre, and he helped set about with an energy and single-mindedness back in those days, primarily working with the juveniles, to prepare them for Lee so as to make winners.

He guided the two-year-olds' monstrously efficient enterprises, and in doing so introduced some meritocracy to the sport.

He was studying economics law after all, while Lee was hoping to go into vet science. 

That mix of intelligent reform yielded huge benefits and results, and you suspect now that Richard is back, success will again follow.

The paradox, as some including Richard realise, is that for Freedman Inc to succeed it must move away from the formula that has served it so well.

"We aren't all back together," he said. "I'm teaming with Michael. Anthony and Lee are together in Melbourne and it's separate."

"My role, and I've got about 20 young ones here to start with, is primarily pre-training again. Nearly all are for my brother Michael at the moment.

"When he got his 23 boxes he said to me he needed someone to get them ready, and wanted me to do it, so I decided I would. And I'm really looking forward to it.

"My intention is to do this for other trainers too. I'm not really going out on my own, although I will have a couple that I will actually train, but it's the pre-training business I'm most interested in developing.

"My son, Will, wants to get into racing and he is currently on the Darley Start program, so this is all probably building a business for him to step into if he still wants to do it when he graduates."

Richard is open to pre-train for other trainers also, and he will remain doing some media work.

Modern day racing just isn't the same without the name Freedman training horses. 

 And from their humble beginnings when the boys started at Warwick Farm with just four horses, then because no-one gave them any support, moving to an old harness racing facility new Flemington, to scale the highest mountains possible in Australia, it's appropriate the journey for the four of them is set to continue.

And come full cycle back to NSW. 

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August 1 is horses birthday & first day back for Richard Freedman as a trainer

Ric Chapman spoke to Richard Freedman, the second oldest of the Freedman Bros, who starts training on his own today.

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