Michael Freedman has signed off from his Hong Kong training career in style, claiming a winner on his way out.
Freedman appeared to be a man with the weight of the world off his shoulders after Honest Way’s victory on Saturday, saying he was excited for what the future holds in Australia.
The irony was not lost on Freedman that one of his best days on paper at the races in Hong Kong was saved for the very end. His very last runner, Lady First, finished third also.
It had been a rough 15 months in Hong Kong for Freedman, who managed only 14 winners in his first season, followed up by three this season before Honest Way’s win.
Freedman pulled the pin on his Sha Tin training career last month to return home to Australia, where he will train at Randwick in Sydney.
“It’s sort of bittersweet really, it is a great way to go out. At least I didn’t go out with a whimper,” he said after the victory.
@DJWhyteJockey plays his part in another small piece of HK racing history: Honest Way relishes the strong pace in R2 and powers home to give Michael Freedman a winner on his last day with a training licence here. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/xTmM6nJ6aJ— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 10, 2018
“There was a touch of irony when I was looking at it this morning thinking ‘I’ve got four runners that on paper all have good chances when I probably haven’t had that in 12 months’.
“It’s actually just the way it worked out, they were horses that I had planned to run weeks ago, the timing of it being my last day was more just a coincidence than anything.
“It’s been a bit of a rocky road, that’s for sure but it is one of those things you chalk up to experience.”
Honest Way capped off a big thirty minutes for the Freedman family, with Michael’s brother Anthony winning the Group One VRC Sprint with Santa Ana Lane at Flemington in Melbourne just moments before his win at Sha Tin.
Freedman, who plans to be up and running with his Sydney stables in a matter of weeks, said he was hoping to attract his remaining Hong Kong owners to Australia to build his numbers early on.
Short of big-race victories in his time in Hong Kong, the Australian said he would love to bring a horse back to Sha Tin for a Longines Hong Kong International Races tilt should he receive one good enough.
“I’d love to have one good enough to come back for the internationals, for sure, it would be high up on my bucket list,” he said.
The 50-year-old was on the back foot from his arrival in Hong Kong with a freakish walking machine accident in September last year seeing one horse killed and the other eight involved retired, and it scared off owners.
Freedman’s horses had been in steady decline from 48 at the start of last season to 28 by the time he announced he would be handing in his licence.
“It’s been a bit of rocky 12 months for various reasons but it’s nice to get a winner on my last day,” Freedman said when asked if there was anything he would change in his time here.
Fittingly, 13-time champion jockey Douglas Whyte rode Honest Way to victory on Saturday after declaring he would love to send Freedman off a winner earlier in the week.
“He has given me some support and, besides the support, he is a lovely individual and I just wish I could send him on his way with a winner,” he said on Tuesday.