By Ray Hickson
There’s one factor that tells co-trainer Sam Freedman that Artorius can bring his brilliant Blue Diamond form to Sydney and snare the big two-year-old double in the Group 1 $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill.
Specifically, Freedman revealed the colt has thrived since his Blue Diamond win last month, where he beat Godolphin pair Ingratiating and Anamoe, and believes if he handles the heavy conditions he will produce his best.
“He put on 10-11kg in between runs so he had a good trial last week and a nice gallop on Tuesday morning and his weight is bang on where he needs to be,’’ he said.
“It’s a good sign because we’ve brought horses up from a Blue Diamond to a Slipper and it can be hard to get them to peak again.
“Lyre was pretty stiff two years ago but she put on weight in between, Hanseatic just held his condition.
“If he handles the conditions that are served up, which is an unknown, and it’s a real testing six furlongs he’ll be strong at the end.”
Only five youngsters have completed the Blue Diamond-Golden Slipper double and it’s been 10 years since Sepoy (2011) was the latest to achieve that feat.
Freedman said Artorius, $11 with TAB, has done plenty of work in the Sydney direction at home and showed he's comfortable in his eye-catching barrier trial at Randwick last week, and subsequent trackwork, so that won’t be an excuse if he doesn’t perform.
“Pinecliff is pretty much Sydney direction, he’s had the trial and a gallop so he’s had plenty of practice,’’ he said.
“He’s a horse that’s been improving the whole time, he’s probably snuck up on us a little bit early. He always showed a lot but we were mindful his best was still ahead.
“He made improvement from his first start to his second start, second start to the Blue Diamond, and I think he has improved again. He’s probably got to sit a little bit closer if we can possibly do that.
“In the spring you might see him potentially out to a mile but he still has that brilliance at six furlongs and that big finish.”
It’s been 25 years since the Freedman name won a Golden Slipper – Lee Freedman won four in a row in the mid-90s with Bint Marscay, Danzero, Flying Spur and Merlene.
Sam Freedman, now 25, was barely a month old when Merlene handed his uncle the fourth and he’s now one of four Freedmans vying to add their name to the honour roll.
Sam co-trains with his father Anthony while his uncles Michael and Richard have Stay Inside and Glistening chasing the world’s richest two-year-old race.
“Dad reflects fondly on all those horses, as do Lee and my uncles,’’ he said.
“We’re always trying to look forward and not back but it’d be nice to make our own history and have a winner this year.”
Richard Freedman said the family is very competitive when it comes to most things, not just racing, and is confident there will be more Freedman-trained Slipper winners.
They may not reach the heights of the Smith dynasty – Tommy Smith and his daughter Gai Waterhouse have won six each – but he said Stay Inside and Glistening are worthy combatants.
Artorius runs second in a Randwick trial on March 6
Stay Inside, $5 with TAB on Friday, comes off an unlucky fourth behind Anamoe in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) two weeks ago and has the advantage of being a soft 7 winner in his four length win at Randwick a month ago.
“He’s a horse that gets from travelling to his top fairly quickly then maintains his momentum,’’ Freedman said.
“He was trying to get to his top early in the straight and he ran into the back of them and he had to be checked and ease. He took a while to get to his top again but the race was gone.”
Glistening caused a minor upset in winning the Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m) on the same day as the Todman and while she’s one of the outsiders at $61 she well and truly earned her place in the Slipper.
She led all the way that day but Freedman said from a favourable draw she might not lead the Slipper.
“There might be plenty that wants to do that, she doesn’t need to,’’ he said.
“She is one that has improved out of sight, she gave Michael enough confidence to go to the Reisling and I think she improved again.”