The Freedman family tree is steeped in racing history over four generations. Members of this dynasty have been successful in eight Melbourne Cups, six Caulfield Cups, four feature races at the famous Royal Ascot meeting in England, and just about every feature race on the Australian racing calendar.
The Freedman history in racing goes back to the turn of the 20th century when Anthony Freedman's great grandfather, Bill "Midge" McLachlan emerged as one of the best young riders in the country.
McLachlan was apprenticed to the famed trainer Richard Wootton. In late 1902, he left with Wootton and his two sons, Frankie and Stan, to try their luck in South Africa, which was booming on the back of the Johannesburg gold strikes. The teenage McLachlan and the two Wootton boys dominated racing in South Africa.
McLachlan returned to Australia and quickly became one of the star riders. He won his first Melbourne Cup in 1909 on Prince Foote, and then followed with another the following year on the imported Comedy King. When Westcourt beat Lingle in the 1917 Melbourne Cup, McLachlan became the first jockey to ride three winners of Australia's most famous race.
In 1922, McLachlan accepted an offer from his close friend Stanley Wootton, who was training on the Epsom Downs, to ride in England. McLachlan rode many winners for Wootton, and also he is credited to have been the first Australian jockey to ride for the Royal Family. He won many races for King George V. (Wootton was later to become famous in Australia for importing champion sire Star Kingdom).
When McLachlan quit the saddle, he returned to Australia to train at Randwick. His eccentric behaviour was often blamed on the heavy falls he sustained as a jockey. He named his Sydney home St. Ives, the name given in tribute by the Freedman brothers to their agistment farm at Merricks North in Victoria.
Apart from McLachlan's Melbourne Cup triumphs, his other big race wins as a jockey included two Caulfield Cups (Maranui 1908 and Aborigine 1909), two Sydney Cups (Vavasor 1910 and Lilyvale 1914), three Champagne Stakes (Athenic 1913, Bigaroon 1919 and Furious 1921), two AJC The Metropolitan Handicaps (Mooltan 1908 and Kannaquhair 1918), two AJC Craven Plates (Mooltan 1908 and Duke Foote 1913), an AJC St Leger (Mountain Knight 1915), an AJC Epsom Handicap (Wolaroi 1919) and an AJC Sires' Produce (Furious 1921).
McLachlan died in 1967, aged 78.
Bill's son, William Henry, or "Young Bill" as he was called, made a name for himself as a trainer in Sydney. Although he didn't have the same big race success as his father, he trained Bourbon to finish second to Catalogue in the 1938 Melbourne Cup. Bourbon had previously won the important 1938 Randwick Plate (3200m).
Not so well known, is that Young Bill was a brilliant jockey who rode with distinction in England as an apprentice before increasing weight forced him out of the saddle.
In 1924, the McLachlans created considerable interest riding against each other at Royal Ascot. The pair shared three wins. Young Bill, at the age of 16, was a sensation winning twice - the Trial Stakes (1400m) on Brimstone, and the Wokingham Stakes (1200m) on Pandarios. Midge's only Royal Ascot win was on Polyphontes in the Ascot Stakes (2400m), which is now known as the King Edward V11 Stakes.
While it is widely stated that Midge is the first Australian jockey to ride for England's Royal Family, in fact, the distinction goes to the Young Bill.
Young Bill died suddenly at home in Randwick, in 1964, aged 56.
Footnote: Lee Freedman was able to return his family's favour to the Woottons, when he trained the champion sprinter Schillaci to win eight Group 1 races. Stanley Wootton's daughter Catherine Remond bred Schillaci.
Anthony Freedman's father Tony is the son of American immigrant Alan Freedman and champion jockey Bill "Midge" McLachlan's daughter Maude.
Tony Freedman, a larger-than life and influential character, was born into a racing household in Sydney, but to him racing wasn't a business, it was a hobby. Freedman's business was property developing. He lived his life to the full, and he was very successful.
A heart attack in the 1960s forced the Sydney-based Freedman into dramatically changing his lifestyle. He packed up his wife Del, and three sons, Lee, Richard and Anthony, and moved to Yass, near Canberra, where he bought the thoroughbred breeding farm Hardwicke Stud. It was from Hardwicke that Freedman dabbled in horse training, and from where his sons quickly honed their horsemanship. Youngest son Michael was born after the family moved to Yass.
Freedman won many races in Sydney and around the bush. His best horses were the stayers Helmsman and Almond Valley.
The family stood some successful stallions at Hardwicke including Loosen Up, sire of champion galloper Better Loosen Up, and the former smart Melbourne galloper Demus.
It was on Tony Freedman's insistence that Lee, a fledgling trainer at Warwick Farm, and his brothers, make the move to Melbourne after the family was unable to secure stables at Randwick. In 1983, he bought the stable complex once owned by trotting stalwart Skipper Taylor, on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, adjacent to the famous Flemington racecourse.
Unfortunately, Tony died shortly after the move to Flemington in 1984, but his foresight and encouragement in those early years is the catalyst for the amazing success of the Freedman brothers.
- opened a Warwick Farm stable.
- moved to Flemington.
- bought part of Malabar Park Stud, Avenel, which they renamed Brackley Park. This became their pre-training and spelling complex.
- trained first Group 1 winner: Miss Clipper (Australasian Oaks at Morphettville).
- won the first of five Melbourne Cups with Tawrrific. Also trained the quinella when Super Impose ran second.
- opened a stable at Epsom, as private trainer for Floyd Podgornik.
- won their second Melbourne Cup with the grey Subzero.
- became the first trainer to win Melbourne's "majors"- Caulfield Cup (Mannerism), Cox Plate (Super Impose) and Melbourne Cup (Subzero) - with three different horses.
- opened a stable at Randwick, under the care of Anthony.
- closed Epsom after Podgornik's death. Moved into Geoff Murphy's vacated stables at Caulfield, which operated alongside their Flemington base.
- won the first of four consecutive Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill with the filly Bint Marscay. They won in 1994 with Danzero; 1995 Flying Spur; and 1996 Merlene.
- won their third Melbourne Cup with Doriemus, who also won the Caulfield Cup.
- moved from Flemington to open a new state of the art stable at Caulfield.
- sold Brackley Park, and developed a similar pre-training and agistment operation on the Mornington Peninsula near Balnarring after buying part of the former Muranna stud and training farm.
- developed Markdel training complex at St. Andrews, near Rye. Closed Caulfield and moved their complete operation to Markdel.
- Lee Freedman inducted in the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame.
- trained their fourth Melbourne Cup winner: Makybe Diva.
- trained their fifth Melbourne Cup winner: Makybe Diva (her third win)
- Mummify wins Lee Freedman's first international Group race: the Group 1 Singapore International Stakes (2000m) at Kranji.
- Lee Freedman trains his first European Group winner when Miss Andretti won the Group 2 King's Stand Stakes (1000m) at Royal Ascot.
- Michael Freedman is granted a licence to train in Singapore.
- Anthony Freedman takes over head-trainer duties at Markdel from brother Lee at the start of the 2011-12 season. Anthony trains his first winner, Boredom, at Geelong, in August. Soon after, his first metropolitan winner was a Stakes winner, the 3YO Specter, who won the Listed Henry Bucks Stakes (fittingly at Flemington) on September 3.
2012 - Anthony Freedman trains his first Group 1 winner, Mawingo, in the 2012 Doomben Cup. Shortly after, Lee Freedman takes out a joint licence with Graeme Rogerson to train at Randwick, Sydney.
2013 - Anthony Freedman Racing relocates to Flemington to train utilizing the World Class facilities at Headquarters.
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