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By Taron Clarke | Friday, July 30, 2010

The Victorian Spring Carnival is a unique period on the Australasian racing calendar, where champions are made and long term dreams become a reality.

Over the years Australia’s leading horse trainers ensure that their stable stars are fit and injury free for an exciting campaign that will almost always ensure a start in one of the feature Group One events over the six week period.

A trainer that has enjoyed immense success over many, many Victorian Spring Carnivals is Hall of Fame member Lee Freedman.

From Durbridge to Doriemus, Mannerism to Mummify and Schillaci to Super Impose, there are not too many major spring races that have evaded Freedman over the years.

After enjoying a reasonably quiet winter, the Freedman yard is set to unleash a mixture of exciting imported stayers and well-bred juveniles for his assault on this year’s Victorian Spring Carnival.

Speaking exclusively to HRO, Freedman Racing Manager Sam Pritchard-Gordon outlines the campaigns the key runners will embark on and the expectations placed upon them this spring.

In the first half of the year, Freedman gave us a brief look at some of his artillery with a handful of horses owned by the highly successful Ball and Chain Syndicate.

Above Average, an entire son of the highly successful Irish stallion High Chaparral, was a first up winner at Caulfield in March. The medium of a confident betting move, Above Average beat subsequent stakes winner Wind Shear a driving finish.

“There is little doubt he will stay the two miles and he has been purchased with the Melbourne Cup in mind, however I suspect that this year’s cup may come round too soon,” Pritchard-Gordon said.

“He has strengthened up nicely and improved physically and will be back at the races in the next six weeks and I suspect Lee will build the horses confidence by continuing to step him up through the grades.”

Runner up behind Persian Star in this year’s rendition of the Andrew Ramsden Stakes over the Melbourne Cup distance of 3200m was another of Freedman’s imports, Ajhar.

“He was given a good eight week break and it was felt that he would be best targeted at the second level staying events, such as the Hobart Cup or maybe even the Auckland Cup,” Pritchard-Gordon said.

Possibly the most impressive of the Ball and Chain Syndicate horses was the Melbourne Racing Club Easter Cup winner, Fanjura. Another of the Freedman imports to only have two starts in his first Australian Campaign, Fanjura was explosive in his victory winning by just under two lengths.

“Fanjura is an exciting horse and his win in the Easter Cup was that of a horse we are hoping might measure up to the cups.

“As for a potential mapped out program, we will have to wait and see, but we could not be more excited about the way he has returned to us,” Pritchard-Gordon said.

Already proven at Group One level is the enigmatic Speed Gifted. Winner of the Metropolitan Handicap in 2009, Speed Gifted has been a frustrating commodity for the Freedman yard.

“If the moon and stars align, he is an exceptional stayer.

“We will certainly progress down the route of preparing for a Melbourne Cup, but he is an infinitely better horse with cut in the ground and needs his races to be run to suit.

“He spelled well in Qld and will be ready to resume in the next six weeks,” Pritchard-Gordon said.

The import with the greatest potential is Doctor Fremantle. The winner of the Group Two Princess of Wale’s Stakes run at the July course at Newmarket, Freedman has given the son of Saddler’s Wells three runs since migrating to the Southern Hemisphere and all were on firm going.

“Doctor Fremantle is a hugely talented horse that displayed glimpses of brilliance in his work, however he failed to replicate that in his races.

“He remains an entire and the ownership is prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“That said, he is a son of Sadler's Wells and Lee feels that a rain affected track will see him at his best.

“As a Group Two winner in the UK, he will have to try and win his races at WFA as he will be rated out of handicaps,” Pritchard-Gordon said.

First Command enjoyed a highly successful spring campaign last year winning the Group Two Caulfield Stakes and running a close second to sprinting star All Silent in the Group Two Gilgai Stakes run down the Flemington straight.

But in two Queensland runs over the Winter Carnival, First Command was slightly disappointing.

“First Command has resumed work after a four week break and needs to find his old form.

“Lee suspects that he may well find that old form once he resumes racing off a left handed bend,” Pritchard-Gordon said.

Freedman’s juveniles will be spearheaded by former stable star Our Smoking Joe’s full brother Smokin’ Joey.

A winner first up in impressive style of the Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes at Caulfield in May, Freedman campaigned the son of Encosta De Lago over the Queensland Winter Carnival with three unlucky runs all behind impressive Sydney colt Pressday.

“He had a four week break in Queensland after an unlucky Queensland campaign.”

“Put a line through his last start and you would hope that he will measure up and he may well be a suitable guineas horse,” Pritchard-Gordon said.

The highest priced yearling of Stratum’s first crop, Pellizotti enjoyed a successful Queensland Winter campaign, notching up two victories from his only two racetrack appearances.

“Everything is falling into place for him and his Listed win at the end of his last preparation was very encouraging.”

“Although he has terrific speed, Dwayne Dunn has always felt he would run 1400m and maybe even 1600m.”

“He had a four week break and has resumed some light work with us in the last week,” Pritchard-Gordon said.

Once again the Freedman yard looks to hold several horses capable of featuring in the major races over the Spring Carnival, and with any luck will add some more silverware to the trophy cabinet.

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Photo: Graham Potter

All other photos: Taron Clarke
Photo: Graham Potter

All other photos: Taron Clarke
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Doctor Freemantle
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