Lee Freedman off the mark at Kranji with Mr Clint
Australian Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman has not taken too long to visit the winner’s enclosure at his new base in Singapore.
Newly-licensed at Kranji from September 1, the five-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer saddled his first runners on Friday night, but unfortunately did not get off to a dream start with his team of four runners.
Fans did not have to wait too long as his very next runner, debutant Mr Clint (Craig Grylls) was the one to etch the Freedman name back on the winner’s list in the $75,000 Spalato 2015 Stakes, a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m.
Trainer Lee Freedman scores his first win at Kranji with debut winner Mr Clint (Craig Grylls) on Sunday, picture Singapore Turf Club
It was also apt that Freedman’s first (technically second as he did win the now-defunct Singapore Airlines International Cup with Mummify in 2005) winner is raced by his predecessor Laurie Laxon’s most loyal owner, Phua Chian Kin of Oscar Racing Stable. Laxon also won his first Singapore race with an Oscar horse in 2000, Streisand.
“It’s nice to get away to a memorable start here and for a horse owned by CK, who has been a great supporter of Laurie’s for many years,” said Freedman whose younger brother Michael trained with success in Singapore from 2008 to 2016, saddling 456 winners all up including 36 at Group level.
“I’ve actually known CK for a long time during my past visits here. He is a real gentleman and it’s nice to reward him with a winner.
“I thought the horse (Mr Clint) showed a fair bit in his work. The further the better for him as he is by a Zabeel mare (Victoria Belle).
“He’s got a good action to him and he will come on good from that first run.”
Having worked with the New Zealand-bred Power three-year-old a bit longer, Laxon’s former assistant-trainer Shane Ellis, who is now acting in the same capacity for Freedman, expected a good performance first-up from the $31 chance, especially after his handy track and trial form.
“He’s a lovely horse that stood out from the day he stepped into the stables,” said the Perth horseman.
“We always had a high opinion of him. We gave him three trials just to educate him as he is still very raw and green.”
Grylls concurred with Ellis on Mr Clint’s rawness.
“It’s good to ride the first winner for Lee Freedman. The horse found himself three deep at one stage but once we turned into the straight, he balanced up and was too good,” said the Kiwi jockey.
“He’s still raw but he has a lot of ability.”
When Freedman was asked how it felt to continue the Freedman legacy in Singapore, he quipped:
“I’m a bit behind Michael, but I’ll catch up.”