Trainer Richard Freedman counting his lucky stars
RICHARD Freedman can boast of training two of Sydney's more exciting horses - emerging stayer Roman Son and unbeaten filly Vontaine.
Roman Son is out to extend his winning streak in the Edward Deas Thomson Hall of Fame Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, and stablemate Vontaine is likely to make her city debut next week.
"I was given Roman Son as a second-hand horse and we picked up Vontaine for $13,000 as a yearling,'' Freedman said.
"From where they have come from, I've got to think myself lucky to get two decent horses.''
Roman Son was bred by the late Bart Cummings out of two stayers he got to the Melbourne Cup, Roman Emperor and Miss Meliss.
Roman Emperor, winner of the 2009 AJC Australian Derby, was unplaced in the Melbourne Cup won by Shocking later that year. Miss Meliss contested the 2002 Melbourne Cup, finishing 10th to Media Puzzle.
Despite his stamina genes, Roman Son is laden with immense talent and a brilliant burst of speed that has proven effective over a middle distance.
Even Freedman is unsure if Roman Son will stay over longer trips, but the trainer is in no rush to find out.
"When you train them for longer distances they can lose that turn of foot, which is normal,'' Freedman said.
"All the good stayers we had, like Doriemus, had a turn a foot while they were fresh, but when they got out to longer distances they lose some of it.
"Roman Son still might be a genuine stayer and I wouldn't say having that good turn of foot stops him from getting over further, but we won't need to find out until the spring.''
Freedman took over the training of the lightly raced Roman Son this autumn, with the gelding running second over 1400m at Warwick Farm before successive wins at Rosehill over 1800m and the Hawkesbury stand-alone at 2100m.
Roman Son has won his past two starts easily, unleashing a brilliant burst of acceleration over the final 400m. The four-year-old was so impressive that Freedman flirted with the idea of a Group 1 Doomben Cup start on Saturday before settling on a home track Rosehill race.
"When you look at the Doomben Cup field, every horse is rated in the high 90s or over 100,'' Freedman said.
"So, running a 84-rated horse like Roman Son against them at weight-for-age means that, statistically, you are unlikely to produce a result.
"If the Doomben Cup was a handicap then you are getting the advantage at the weights to compensate for a low rating, but at weight-for-age, against those hardened, proven older horses, I didn't think it was the right path.
"Roman Son is a horse going through the grades doing everything right by us and I didn't want to throw him in the deep end.''
Freedman said if Roman Son won again - the stayer is the $2 TAB Fixed Odds favourite to complete his hat-trick - he would give the horse his chance in the Group 2 $300,000 Brisbane Cup (2200m) at Doomben on June 9.
"There is not a lot of speed in this race and we might have to settle a bit closer early, then with his turn of foot it might give him an advantage,'' he said.
"If he wins at Rosehill, then his rating will go up to around 90 and then he can go to the Brisbane Cup.
"He is very promising and his wins have been impressive but you have got to look at what he has been beating. He has been racing horses with ratings in the high 70s or low 80s so we can't get carried away.''
Freedman applied similar thinking to Vontaine. She has won her only two starts, both at Kembla Grange, including a runaway seven-length romp there last Saturday.
"It's early days with her but I do have a long-term blue sky target of maybe getting her to the Queensland Guineas on Stradbroke and Brisbane Cup Day,'' Freedman said.
"I have had her win last Saturday assessed by some of the good ratings guys and they said she can be competitive at Group 3 level in the Guineas if she can reproduce that effort.
"She would need a little bit more prizemoney to get into the Guineas field so I'm looking at running her either at Randwick next Saturday or the Wednesday after that at Warwick Farm. If she can win her next start, then I'll look at Brisbane with her.''