Former top Singapore handler Michael Freedman will be the new expatriate trainer to join the Hong Kong roster at Sha Tin from the start of the 2017/18 season.
Freedman, 49 in April, had returned to a base in Sydney only a year ago after eight successful years in the Lion City, a shift that saw the youngest of the famous Freedman brothers overlooked in discussions on who the new expat trainer might be.
“Look, it wasn’t part of the plan when I left Singapore and I wasn’t even sure about it when it did come up and the club asked if I was still interested, especially with a few nice two-year-olds starting to go well in Sydney and things coming together nicely here,” Freedman said today.
“I hesitated but, the more I thought about it, the more I asked myself the question whether I would be disappointed if I said no and the chance to train in Hong Kong was gone forever, and the more I realised I would be disappointed.”
Freedman said that during his time in Singapore, he regularly inquired about whether there were openings coming up at the Jockey Club and he did so again before deciding to set up back in Australia.
Trainer Michael Freedman granted HK licence for 2017/2018 season, Licensing Committee announced today pic.twitter.com/6aaSYHbc9h— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 17, 2017
“It’s a long-held ambition and, as I was moving, I thought it best to see if the move could be to Hong Kong but I was told at that time there was no opening so Sydney it was,” Freedman said.
“I’m sure there will be differences but I think it will be a help that I’ve trained in Singapore, in a similar type of system, and knowing the needs of Asian owners. I have had a couple of regular Hong Kong owners there – Leung Kai-fai, Robert Ng See Chiong have had horses with me and I trained a couple for Military Attack’s owner as well.”
Freedman’s best known brother is Australian Hall Of Fame handler Lee, who continues to train successfully in Melbourne in partnership with another brother Anthony, while Richard Freedman has dabbled in training and racing administration but is best known currently as a commentator on Australian racing broadcast network, Sky.
The trainer of Singapore champion Super Easy, who visited Hong Kong for the 2012 Jockey Club Sprint and Hong Kong Sprint, Michael won a raft of major events in Singapore, including 12 Group Ones, among more than 400 winners over his eight seasons there.
He will make a return visit to Hong Kong late next week but will continue to train in Sydney until The Championships are finished in April before making the move with his wife, Anna, while their 15-year-old triplets, Max, Sophie and Jessica, will continue in school in Australia.
The Licensing Committee today also announced that apprentice jockey Matthew Poon Ming-fai would be licensed to ride in Hong Kong from March 26, following his tremendously successful training period in Adelaide.
In other news, stewards will reconvene their inquiry into Chad Schofield’s handling of Ambitious Pins at happy Valley on Wednesday night at 3.30 on Monday.