Lee Freedman has sent shockwaves through the Victorian racing industry on the eve of the spring carnival by announcing that he is retiring as a head trainer.
After returning his lowest number of metropolitan winners (31) in decades last season, Freedman has decided to hand over head training duties to his brother Anthony.
It is believed that Freedman will still be involved in the business side of the stable, but he is stepping back from training duties in an effort to reassess where his business is heading.
“After a great deal of thought I have made this decision to allow me the time to reassess our business. I am not satisified with how things have been over the past few years and the time is right for me to have a look at every aspect of how we do business,” Freedman said.
“Anthony has served a 25 year apprenticeship and will bring great skill and a fresh approach to an ever changing business. We feel that this is the best way to rejuvenate the business.
“I am sure Anthony will be a great success and I will derive a lot of pleasure from assisting him achieve that.”
Since following in the footsteps of his father Tony and becoming a fully-fledged trainer in 1983, Lee Freeman has gone on to become one of Australia’s most respected and successful trainers.
Freedman won the Melbourne Cup on five separate occasions. He truly announced himself as one of the country’s best trainers when Tawriffic saluted in the 1989 Cup, and his legacy as a spring carnival master was cemented with horses like Subzero and Doriemus. But perhaps is greatest racing achievement was preparing Makybe Diva for her second and third Melbourne Cup wins in 2004 and 2005.
Freedman also trained such champions of the turf as Alinghi, Mahogany, Miss Andretti, Mannerism, Super Impose and Schillaci. All in all Freedman trained 124 Group One winners which included five Melbourne Cups, Four Caulfield Cups, two Cox Plates and four Golden Slippers. He was also able to capture the Melbourne metropolitan trainer’s premiership on seven separate occasions and in 2003 he was inducted into the racing hall of fame.
It is fair to say that this decision has come out of the blue and taken many by surprise. Just yesterday Freedman nominated 17 of his three year old horses for the 2011 Caulfield Guineas.
Lee’s brother Anthony said he was looking forward to taking over the day to day training of the horses, and that he was looking forward to an exciting Melbourne Spring Carnival for the new look Freedman team.
“I see this as a great opportunity and I’m really excited to be taking charge,” Anthony Freedman said.
“Having Lee to assist me will be of a great benefit and the owners we have discussed this with have been very supportive of our decision.
“There’s lots of work to do and I’m looking forward to getting into it. We are confident these changes and the ongoing support of our very loyal owners will return the Freedman name back to the top of Australian racing.”
Anthony Freedman’s first runner in a race as a fully-fledged trainer will be Pecuniary in the third race of the day at Geelong on Friday.