They all know Anthony Freedman at Randwick. The blokes who have been there for years working around the stables. So when Shoals and Santa Ana Lane were swimming on Tuesday, one old-timer approached the trainer.
“Is that your boy,” he asked.
“Yeh,” came a typical Anthony response. He doesnt waste words or letters.
“I thought he was a Pommy, but I can see it now.”
“You wouldnt think it, would you. Hes six-two and is a bit different to me,” replied Freedman, who is more jockey height.
The next generation Freedman, Sam, who is looking to carry on one of racings more famous names, like his cousin Will at uncle Richards Rosehill stable, is working. Shoals has swum and Santa Ana Lane has just finished.
“Good luck on Saturday,” Freedmans old friend says as he walks off with horse in tow.
“Thanks,” Anthony replies.
Freedman has been here before, maybe not at front of house, but for five Melbourne Cups and all the success of the Freedman brothers, he was there. Lee was the trainer but Anthony, Richard and Michael played their roles. Anthony always preferred to work with the horses.
“I like watching them work and staying out of the way,” Anthony said. "That's what is good down the farm [in Mornington], it's just the horses there.
“It worked well back then because we all were happy in our jobs. I was happy to be a trainer [even if Lee's name was in the book].
“Even when I was with Lee [in a training partnership] he was our front man doing the interviews. The background suited me.”
That is changing now. Anthony, who has been around the stables for 35 years, is out on his own as the trainer and he is learning from his son.
“He pushes me,” Anthony said. “He see things differently and wants to get out there a bit more.
“It isnt something I have done. He gets me to things where I have to wear a suit, I would rather be with the horses.”
Preparing winners isnt enough these days; there is communication with owners and media calls needed to build the business. Sam is better at that than dad.
“We have to make sure everyone knows whats going on,” Sam said. “Talking to owners, making sure they are happy, is as important as anything else.”
Sam runs a website and is keen on the communication side of the business, making sure horses continue to come through the door. That's on top of working the stable and often being the face of the operation at the races.
But his father is imparting the Freedman training philosophy on him.
“Its patience,” Anthony said. “We dont push too hard, if they need a break they need a break.”
Funnily enough the father-son team traces it origin back to Makybe Divas third Melbourne Cup in 2005. It is when the racing bug bit Sam.
“He came that day, pretty good day to go to your first Melbourne Cup, and from then on he wanted to be around the stables,” Anthony said.
“Im very proud of him, its early days with this. But Im proud of him.
“He took Santa to Brisbane and had some success.”
Sam Freedman is now a 22-year-old and has had a couple of years working with Roger Varian in England. Thats where the Pommy accent might have come from.
“I remember that day with Makybe. I just started to do the school holidays at the stables and getting there as much as I could,” Sam said.
“I went over and learned some different ways to train in England, but working with dad is great.
"The stable is going well and the horse are going well.”
There has been success: three group 1 wins to Shoals last season and another three to Santa Ana Lane have set up the father-son combination for a dual shot at the $13 million Everest.
Watch the pair together and there are similarities as they deal with the horses. There is a comfort there, an understanding between them. Not much has to be said.
Anthony Freedman holds Shoals and you can feel him looking at her, through her even, thinking about Saturday.
“They are very well,” Anthony starts. “I think they are as good as they were two weeks ago but this is the day we have been aiming at.”
A fortnight ago, Santa Ana Lane smashed the Randwick 1200-metre track record in the Premiere Stakes, but only just nosed out a fast-finishing Shoals. It was the best Everest trial the Freedmans could have hoped for.
“I'm very happy with them and I cant really split them really,” he continued. “It will depend on luck in running and the track.
“They both handle it [wet].”
Another glance at Shoals.
“She is bit more adaptable than him. She can be closer [in the run],” Freedman adds. "He doesnt have to be that far back but it will come down to luck.''
“Ready to go,” he turns his attention to Sam.
“Yep,” Sam says.
"Not much to more say," Anthony says as he walks off.
Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald