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How Freedman first knew Surfers as a pub on a sand dune

If COVID restrictions allow it to happen, Lee Freedman hopes to be operational at his Gold Coast base by April as he returns to the place where he trained his first winner Blockade back in 1983. “I bought some horses up for my old man (Tony) one winter,” he recalls. “It wasn’t a permanent arrangement…

If COVID restrictions allow it to happen, Lee Freedman hopes to be operational at his Gold Coast base by April as he returns to the place where he trained his first winner Blockade back in 1983.

“I bought some horses up for my old man (Tony) one winter,” he recalls. “It wasn’t a permanent arrangement but I camped there in the early days and had a winner.”

Many years later he had a successful satellite stable at Eagle Farm, a venue where he won the first $1 million Stradbroke with Danasinga in 1996 and launched the career of superstar Mahogany in the winter of 1993.

Now the Hall of Famer has decided to move back to Queensland, frustrated by the diminishing industry in Singapore and keen to make a lifestyle change to be closer to his family, which now includes grandchildren, as well as being part of a Queensland industry he sees as making good progression.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things. Clearly it’s that (lifestyle) and also there seems to be a bit of a resurgence in Queensland racing at the moment,” he said.

“There’s more interest at government level and also committee and administrative level to really fire it up after what was a difficult period a few years back.

“It has a bright future. It has big population growth, which is always good to support a racing industry and there seems to be genuine enthusiasm.

“It’s a great industry earner for government, so it’s an industry worth looking after.”

Freedman, 64, said the global COVID situation makes it difficult to put a timeline on when he will be up and running on the Coast, but he intends for it to be in the first half of 2021.

“I would like to be operational in April and if that means we have something ready to go to the races in April that would be great,” he said.

Though he made his name in Victoria, Freedman points out he has a few links to Queensland including his mum Del, who celebrated her 88th birthday on Saturday.

“My mother (who now lives in Victoria) was a Queenslander and still is … her final meal will be a bucket of King Prawns and a long neck,” Freedman said.

“I got taken up (to Queensland) as a child … I still remember vaguely driving through canefield after canefield and then coming across this pub on a sand dune with this great big long beach. There was no sky scrapers and that was called Surfers Paradise.”

Freedman has also indicated he will be open to a training partnership sometime in the future should the right candidate emerge.

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