A CONTEST international boxing entrepreneur Don King would dearly like to promote is looming on the Victorian racing scene. The protagonists are the state's chief stipendiary steward, Pat Lalor, and Melbourne's leading trainer, Lee Freedman. In the middle is the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) committee. After the two-year-old Central Express failed in a race at Flemington on March 13, Freedman decided she needed to race in blinkers to improve her concentration. Under rules of racing unique to Victoria, Central Express would have been required to trial, before a steward, the following morning to enable her to race in blinkers in the Silver Jubilee Stakes at Flemington on March 18. Freedman felt that was impracticable, so he deliberately substituted Spanish Reign, a gelding, for her in the trial. Cleared to race in blinkers, Central Express duly won but Lalor was subsequently informed of the deception. An inquiry was opened; Freedman admitted the offence and was suspended until the end of the current racing season only July 31 on an improper practice charge. He was incensed and claimed the decision to suspend him 'came straight out of the 1950s, not the 1990s'. 'It would have been unfair to the owners and ridiculous for Central Express to have had to trial on March 14,' said Freedman. 'In fact, I consider the rules to be grossly unfair to all owners and an insult to competent and experienced trainers. 'Victoria is now the only state where horses must be barrier trialled for the use of blinkers. 'It's time the VRC acted to bring the rules into line with the rest of Australia. 'In the meantime, I've obviously been victimised in my position as leading trainer and I've no hesitation in appealing against this ludicrous decision.' After handing down his judgment, Lalor agreed the penalty could appear to be harsh. 'If a person flaunts the rules, then they must be prepared to accept the consequences and the penalties,' he said. Now Lalor and Freedman are set to clash in a head-to-head showdown, when the appeal is heard by the VRC committee on April 24. Both Lalor and Freedman can point to impeccable credentials to champion their cause. A successful amateur jockey in his younger days, Lalor, 60, had nearly 20 years of experience as a steward behind him when he was appointed chairman in 1982. Since establishing stables at Flemington in May 1984, Freedman and his brothers - Richard, Anthony and Michael - have developed one of the most successful training operations in Australian racing history. In a way the type of confrontation Freedman is having with the establishment was bound to happen one day. From the time the English Jockey Club was formed in the middle of the 18th Century trainers have been treated as an inferior group by the controlling bodies. But it has only been in the last 25 years or so that licensed persons have really begun to question their treatment under the rules of racing. Freedman is running a multi-million dollar business in which he and his brothers have made a very significant investment. Yet he, and other licensed people, can still be stopped from earning a living by racing administrators. It was in this light Freedman decided to 'take on' the powers that be.