Freedman Has First Group 1 Runners
It’s a question young Ballarat trainer Mitch Freedman says he gets all the time.
But for the record, he is no relation to the powerful Freedman brothers, led by Melbourne Cup winning trainer Lee Freedman who now trains in Singapore.
For Mitch Freedman, he is making a name for himself in his right and hopes it will be highlighted even more during the Spring Carnival when two runners from Swettenham Stud’s stallion – Puissance de Lune – tackle the Victoria Derby (2500m) and the VRC Oaks (2500m).
Colt Southern Moon and Moonlight Maid both ran second at their last starts into the lead-up to tackling the glory of Group 1 races.
Southern Moon finished second in the Geelong Classic (2200m) at the Geelong Cup meeting, while Midnight Maid was runner-up in the Group 2 Vase (2040m) on Cox Plate day.
While Billy Egan will replace the suspended Ben Melham on Southern Moon, Freedman said he was happy to draw barrier eight in the Derby . The three year-old colt has already moved in one barrier with an early scratching.
Egan is no stranger to the colt, which is rated a $12 chance in the Derby, after riding him to victory at his previous start in a maiden at Donald.
Freedman, who has never had a Group 1 runner, said he would continue to assess Moonlight Maid as the Oaks draws closer, but he is happy with the way both horses have pulled up after their last runs.
“They are all on target,” he said.
“I think Southern Moon’s barrier is perfect. He comes into seven with the scratching so he should just get the right run from there. I was very happy with his last run.”
Freedman says he is looking forward to the Flemington Carnival where he could also be chasing another Group 1 race with Moonee Valley Crockett Stakes winner Broadwayandfourth which is likely to target the Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on the final day of the Flemington Carnival.
And Freedman admits he had the inside running on how he thought one-time Melbourne Cup hope Puissance de Lune would perform as a stallion.
The 30 year-old looked after the Gerry Ryan owned grey during his time as Darren Weir’s foreman.
It didn’t come as any great shock to Freedman when three year-old filly Moonlight Maid stormed home to win the Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) at Caulfield to set the daughter of Puissance de Lune on a path to the 2500m VRC Oaks.
He was even less surprised that the import had brought up his first stakes winner.
The dominant win was significant for both the filly and Freedman as they shared their first stakes victory. Swettenham Stud was also pretty chuffed.
And just three days after Midnight Maid’s barnstorming last to first victory, which saw her odds for the Oaks slashed from $51 to $8 and now $4.20, another of Freedman’s highly rated Puissance de Lune’s – Southern Moon – scored easily in a 2000m maiden at Donald.
Southern Moon missed the golden ticket into the Derby at the three year-old colt’s previous start in the Victoria Derby Trial (1800m) at Flemington when he was held up 400m from home and finished second by the narrowest of margins.
Freedman explained that the Donald mission, where the colt started $1.12 favourite, was to continue to build up his prizemoney to guarantee a Derby start.
Asked whether it was a surprise to get two potential staying stars from the young stallion, Freedman wasn’t so sure and replied:
“I basically lived with the horse (Puissance de Lune) and you understand them a bit, I think.
“He was just a talented horse who was very intelligent. And Southern Moon showed a lot of attributes like that and just has a good brain on him.
“I think Puissance de Lune will be a popular stallion and it’s good that we have shown that we can get them going.”
Freedman said Moonlight Maid and Southern Moon, which has also had five starts, are physically similar, but the colt is a lot more laid back.
As for Moonlight Maid’s Group victory at just her fourth start, Freedman said he believed before the race she could finish in the top five or six after getting a lot of things wrong at her previous start at Bendigo. He said she raced more professionally at Flemington and was helped by the “heat’’ up front.
Like Southern Moon, Freedman predicts a big future for Moonlight Maid.
Successful horse owner/breeder and businessman John Sutcliffe, a top umpire who officiated in the 1977 drawn Grand Final and the replay a week later between North Melbourne and Collingwood, combined with Ryan to breed Moonlight Maid.
Gerry raced the multiple Group winning Puissance de Lune and John raced Moonlight Maid’s stakes winning dam, Manhattan Maid (Choisir). As the pair had raced horses together before it was an easy decision to go 50/50 in another foal.
While Moonlight Maid started off with the now disqualified Darren Weir, John suggested that Mitch Freedman takeover her training earlier this year.
“I said to Gerry that Mitch Freedman had trained the mother and father as Darren’s foreman so why don’t we send him down there. I rang him and said we’ve got a horse for you and he soon told us she goes pretty well – a bit better than we thought," John said.
“It’s very exciting."