Good things come in pairs for Michael Freedman
Former Singapore-based trainer gets off the mark in Hong Kong
The Lam Tei Handicap and Nam Sang Wai Handicap, both Class 4 contests run at Sha Tin on Sunday, will never rate a mention among the world's great races.
But, for trainer Michael Freedman, there were parallels between the pair of handicaps and one of the great races on the planet after the Australian scored his first wins as a Hong Kong trainer with ENDEARING and SILVERFIELD respectively.
"It's a big thrill - I said to Sam (Clipperton) when he came back aboard Endearing, it felt like winning a Melbourne Cup again," said Freedman, who was involved in the preparation of five winners of "the race that stops a nation" while working for his brother Lee.
"That is the pinnacle for any Australian trainer, but winning the first race, that matched the feeling, it was certainly a big thrill. It's nice with only our fourth runner to get a winner at Sha Tin, it's very pleasing.
"And to then add a second, it makes me think that we are starting to do things right in terms of our systems down at the Olympic Stables.
"It hasn't been the easiest start, we had a couple of testing weeks there, but the staff have been great, my assistant Carol (Yu) has been terrific and we're on our way now."
Endearing was fancied to give Freedman his much-anticipated first winner, with the Lonhro five-year-old sent out as the 2-1 favourite in the Lam Tei Handicap over 1,200m.
After settling handy on the rails, Clipperton pulled Endearing out at the top of the straight and put the result beyond doubt passing the 150m mark, holding a length and a half margin over Spring Win at the wire.
"I've found him a real pleasure to train, he's been fairly trouble-free," said Freedman, who was based in Singapore for a few years.
"We made a couple of subtle gear changes, we put a tongue tie on him and took the blinkers off. Sam's done a lot of work on the horse so it's great that he could win on him today.
"I think, on what I saw him do today too, I'd be hoping he could stretch out to 1,400m and maybe even 1,600m later on."
Silverfield was Freedman's first runner as a Hong Kong trainer on Sept 10.
It was not the handler's original intention to run on Sunday's card, with Silverfield being saved for the National Day meeting.
But the decision to front up paid dividends with the Clodovil gelding racing clear under Chad Schofield from around midfield to record a two-and-a-quarter-length win.
"I think he was a bit rusty first-up, so I thought we'd go again today," said Freedman.
"Having some rain around helped, I think he appreciated being on a track that had just a little bit of give in it.
"And Chad's ride was ideal, he tracked the speed and had him ready to go at the top of the straight."
Silverfield, Group 1-placed in France before he was purchased by owner Edmond Yue, was an acquisition from now-retired trainer Gary Ng.
He did not race for almost three years before his Hong Kong debut in April 2016, but Freedman says the issues that had plagued the seven-year-old early in his career have not caused him any problems in recent times. - HKJC