Ex-Hong Kong trainer Michael Freedman jokes his time in the city could have been vastly different had he trained more horses like Excellent Proposal, but the Australian would love to see his former galloper salute in Sunday’s BMW Hong Kong Derby.
Freedman, along with his brother Richard, trained Excellent Proposal in Sydney for owner Kenneth Chung Kin-shu, where he won three from four starts in 2019 before being exported to Hong Kong.
After enduring a torrid run during his brief Hong Kong training career which lasted just over a season and netted only 18 winners, Freedman is enjoying life back in Sydney where he recently snared the Group One Surround Stakes (1,400m).
While Excellent Proposal is now in the care of John Size, Freedman says he would still be thrilled to see him win Hong Kong’s most prestigious race.
“For sure, it is satisfying seeing him win and it would be great to see him with the Derby,” he said.
“Of course you’d love to have him here and running around in races here but at the end of the day I fully understand how Kenneth wants to operate.
“It’s funny, I would have liked to have had a few Excellent Proposals when I was there, it might have been a different story.”
Freedman always had Group One aspirations for Excellent Proposal and believes had he stayed in Australia, he would have been competitive at the top level.
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“[Excellent Proposal] was always a horse that showed good ability here,” he said.
“I did say to Bill Mitchell, who manages the horses for Kenneth down here, that if he didn’t have to go to Hong Kong, I thought he would have been a perfect Doncaster Mile or Epsom [Handicap] horse eventually.
“He did show that ability early on, I probably didn’t think he would be a 2,000m horse but obviously being up there with John, he has been able to stretch him out a bit.”
Since returning to Sydney, Freedman has prepared a handful of horses for Chung and is still well represented by his purple and green colours.
“We have got three here, one three-year-old and two nice two-year-olds, another one went up there as [an unraced horse] – a Shalaa colt about a month ago,” he said.
“Kenneth buys very nice horses every year and supports the stable so we end up a nice horse or two that doesn’t go to Hong Kong. It is good to see Excellent Proposal go up there and do as well as he has been doing.”
After notching up their first Group One together last month, both Michael and Richard are quietly building an impressive stable in Sydney.
The pair will saddle up Golden Slipper second elect Stay Inside along with outsider Glistening on Saturday as they look to build on their good run of form.
“I am enjoying being back, it is nice getting back up to speed here,” Freedman said.
“We are starting to get some very nice horses and getting good support from big owners who are buying nice yearlings so it makes a difference.
“I have only got 25 horses in work at Randwick, Richard has 35 at Rosehill so between us we have 50-odd year round, which relatively speaking is a small number compared to some big stables.”