Edited extract from www.racenet.com.au
By Brad Waters
Trainer Anthony Freedman may not be "all over the jumps racing side of things" but will have the consult the cross-country calendar after Above Average provided part of the stable's treble at Sportingbet Park Sandown Hillside.
Above Average jumped cleanly before posting his maiden jumps success in the Easter Saturday at Caulfield Hurdle (3300m), giving the Markdel operation a rare win over obstacles.
Freedman admitted he needed the advice of others when assessing Above Average's hurdling potential. Above Average defeated another imported galloper Our Aristocrat by 2-1/2 lengths.
Freedman was part of his brother Lee's success with star hurdler Nautilism, who won the 2001 Grand National Hurdle at Flemington, and the stable is excited about the prospects of Above Average, a son of High Chaparral, who finished second in the 2010 Group II Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m).
"He (Nautilism) won a (Grand) National and I'm not all over the jumps racing side of things, but I've got a couple of guys with me that are very, very good (judges) and they think he's very good," Freedman said.
"To my eye, he jumped well and not having raced for six or seven weeks you would think he would find some improvement in fitness.
"Obviously I would think he would also get better for the experience over the jumps and keep improving. Mark Stephenson, who has done a lot of work with the horse, said he's as good a jumper as he has handled."
The Darley-owned Textiles provided Freedman with the stable's second win of the day in the Landscaping Solutions Handicap (1000m). Textiles became the first Australian winner for Hard Spun with his debut effort.
The Mick Price-trained Vicario completed a quinella for the young Darley sire when finishing a half-length behind Textiles.
Vlad Duric continued his successful comeback to Melbourne with his win on Textiles. Duric was also the winning rider of Cornell, who completed Freedman's treble with his win in the Ahern's At Highways Handicap (1400m).
Cornell resumed after failing in the 2011 Victoria Derby. The Elusive Quality gelding finished gamely to stave off the challenge of the favourite Hot Lover.
Photo: Above Average (left), ridden by Gavin Bedggood, challenging Our Aristocrat before going on to win at Sandown. Photo credit: Herald Sun
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