Richard Freedman returns to where it all began for Canberra Cup

Richard Freedman returns to where it all began for Canberra Cup

He won his first race there, claimed a Canberra Cup with the legendary Super Impose as part of the FBI and now racing icon Richard Freedman wants to complete the journey with another Cup in his own right.

Freedman grew up on Hardwicke Stud in Yass, but he said Canberra feels more like home after spending almost every weekend of his youth not only in the capital - but at the racetrack.

Makybe Diva and Glenn Boss win third cup in a row for trainer Lee Freedman.

Makybe Diva and Glenn Boss win third cup in a row for trainer Lee Freedman.

Photo: Vince Caligiuri

He was either playing rugby for Canberra Grammar or at the races with his family and it was the latter which inspired a passion that saw him drop out of ANU to train horses.

With his brothers Lee, Anthony and Michael, the Freedman Brothers Incorporated - or more commonly the FBI - have trained more than 130 group 1 winners, including five Melbourne Cups.

Freedman was back at Thoroughbred Park on Friday, evoking plenty of memories ahead of Sunday's Black Opal Stakes day.


"All the Freedman brothers started racing here. We used to come every Saturday afternoon with our dad to the races," he said.

"My mum would come too and our eldest brother who's handicapped, he used to love it.

"I remember the big ring of bookies and all the old jockeys. I spent just as much time over the road at the showgrounds and at the riding club. I spent a huge part of my youth here.

"This is the first race track I ever knew so it's very special."

Freedman's first ever winner was in Canberra, 38 years ago and alongside Lee they steered champion gelding Super Impose to Canberra Cup glory in 1992.

The champion gelding also won a Cox Plate, two Chipping Norton Stakes, two Epsom Handicaps and two Doncaster Handicaps to name but a few.

Freedman took a break from training horses, worked as a racing administrator and a media pundit, but has returned to his original love - training horses.

"I trained my first winner in 1980, I can't remember the name of it, which is disgraceful, but [retired jockey] John Scorse rode it and it was a maiden over 1200 metres, that's all I remember," he said.

"[Before training] I was riding show horses and loved it, I still love it. I think they're the most beautiful animal, they are very special and that's why I'm still doing it. I could not do it, but I actually want to do it."

Freedman believes he finally has the horse to win a Canberra Cup (2000 metres) in his own right, with Auvray set to jump from barrier eight in the $200,000 listed race.

The seven-year-old gelding's a $9.50 shot behind $4.20-favourite Show A Star in what's shaping as a very even Cup - there are nine chances below $10.

But some of them might run in the Randwick City Stakes in Sydney on Saturday - Auvray is one of a number dual accepted between the two races.

Freedman said the son of Le Havre would probably go to Canberra - although he likes a soft track and a deluge could keep him up the Hume.

"It would be huge to win one [under my own name], it would be the completion of the circle," Freedman said.

"It would be a lovely circle to come back as an older man and win a race that we could never win when we were kids because we never had a horse good enough.

"We won it with one of our greatest ever horses and then to win it in my own right would be wonderful.

"I need to see pace in the race, which could happen, and a little bit of a softer track would help, but he'll run very well, he always does.

"It doesn't matter how many runners or who comes because he can beat all those horses if they run the race that suits him."


Black Opal Stakes day

Sunday: Thoroughbred Park, race one at 1:10pm - race eight at 5:40pm, tickets $25.

Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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