Michael Freedman will have his last day training in Hong Kong on November 10.  Photo by HKJC.


It’s not about bad luck – Michael Freedman to leave Hong Kong

The Australian quits Hong Kong for Sydney and Sha Tin’s Olympic Stables lose another tenant


By Michael Cox

For Hutchi’s Honkers



Michael Freedman refused to blame facilities or “bad luck” for his sudden departure from the Hong Kong training ranks after little more than one season and said family was the main reason he will return to Australia.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club confirmed Freedman’s departure on Monday after a difficult 15 months in Hong Kong that garnered just 17 wins.

The 50-year-old Freedman, whose final day will be November 10, not only cited family reasons but an opportunity to re-start his career in Sydney as motivation for the move.

Freedman had managed three wins from the first 16 meetings of this term but decided to walk away “after a long deliberation”, returning to Sydney with wife Anna to spend time with his teenaged triplets, who had remained in school in Australia.

“After giving it a lot of thought we have decided to return home and I want to thank the Jockey Club for the opportunity ,” Freedman told Hutchi’s Honkers.

Freedman’s final day will be November 10 before he heads back to train at his former Randwick base.

“The timing of me going isn’t ideal for the club, I know that, but I am doing it for my family and the timing has to suit that,” he said.

Freedman, a former top trainer in Singapore and the brother of current trainers Lee, Richard and Anthony, started on the same day as local Frankie Lor but the pair couldn’t have had more different seasons in 2017-18.

Lor, based in the older stables at Sha Tin’s northern end, thrived with a full yard of transfers, finishing second in the championship with 65 wins, while at the other end of the track, in the so-called Olympic Stables, the patient Freedman struggled to 14 wins with a smaller batch of mostly new and untried stock.

Freedman’s first season was also dealt a blow before he had even saddled-up his first runner when a freakish horse walker accident resulted in the death of one horse and the retirement of the eight other horses that were on the machine at the time.


Michael Freedman enjoyed his first Hong Kong win with Endearing and rider Sam Clipperton last year. Photo by HKJC.


So while Lor was the talk of the town, Freedman risked being tarred with the worst label a trainer can have in Hong Kong – unlucky – as he played a waiting game with his young group.

Whether or not trainers based at the Olympic Stables are at a competitive disadvantage has been a point of contention for seasons now.

Under-performing former trainer Sean Woods even started legal action at one stage, arguing he had not been provided with a level playing field.

Both Woods and fellow Olympic Stables tenant Andreas Schutz left Hong Kong at the end of 2015-16, stripped of their licenses after three strikes under the performance criteria system.

Still, despite his struggles at the south-eastern end of Sha Tin, Freedman refused to make excuses and leaves Hong Kong with no hard feelings towards the club.

“I think the stables are fine, they are modern stables, they are nice and breezy and they are in a good spot,” Freedman said, a sentiment echoed in an impassioned plea for support from fellow Olympic Stables-based trainer David Ferraris recently.

Freedman’s exit leaves Ferraris and Michael Chang as the only two handlers operating out of the Olympic Stables, with two slots now seemingly open for new trainers in Hong Kong.