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Powerful force in industry; Louis Freedman was one of Britain's foremost owner-breeders, with a stream of top-class performers emanating from his Cliveden Stud.

LOUIS Freedman, owner-breeder of Reference Point, who was one of the best champions of the 1980s, has died at the age of 81.

Since the mid-1960s, Freedman has been one of Britain's most successful owner-breeders. Among his other prominent winners were I Say, Lucyrowe, Attica Meli and Oaks heroine Polygamy. Away from racing, in 1977 he was made a CBE for his services to race relations.

Freedman's involvement in racing dates back to the early 1960s and his career as an estate agent, in which field he became chairman of his Land Securities Investment Trust. It also led him into contact with the solicitor Isidore Kerman, who at the time had horses in training with Walter Nightingall and later was the owner of Plumpton and Fontwell racecourses.

The Freedman-Kerman partnership bought a yearling filly at Deauville. The filly, named Fairsica, went into training with Nightingall, for whom she won a Sandown maiden at three.

Within two years of that victory, Freedman had his first taste of high- level success when his colt I Say won the White Rose Stakes at Ascot and finished third behind Sea-Bird in the 1965 Derby.

I Say disappointed after the Derby, but the decision to keep him in training as a four-year-old was rewarded with victory in the Coronation Cup and third place in the Hardwicke Stakes. He had his chance at stud and, before his export to Brazil, sired 1979 Grand National hero Rubstic.

At the end of 1966, Freedman bought Cliveden Stud in Buckinghamshire from the Astor family and started to build up his own breeding operation, which was to reach its zenith with Reference Point.

In 1967, he gave 9,000gns and 1,550gns for two yearling fillies who became high-class performers-Lucyrowe and Seventh Bride.

Nightingall died in the summer of 1968 and his sister Margery, who held a temporary licence for the rest of the season, sent out Lucyrowe to finish second in the Cheveley Park Stakes.

Freedman's horses then went to Peter Walwyn at Lambourn, and the new association made a happy start, for Lucyrowe won the Ebbisham, Coronation (by 12 lengths), Nassau and Sun Chariot Stakes. In the Nassau she had just a short head to spare over Seventh Bride, whose successes included the Princess Royal Stakes.

Two years later, Freedman expanded his interests by purchasing Beech House Stud and its bloodstock from Lady Sassoon, with the intention that horses from his Cliveden operation should be handled by Walwyn and those from Beech House by Noel Murless, who had trained for the Sassoons.

A few weeks later, Murless sent out his first winner in the Freedman colours when Abwah took a Newbury maiden. This was the forerunner of many top-level successes from Warren Place, where Henry Cecil later trained Reference Point. Abwah proved a smart sprinter, taking the Duke of York Stakes before going to stud, where he sired Absalom.

Later in 1971, Freedman had the pleasure of seeing his first home-bred winner when Guillotina (Busted-Tina), trained by Walwyn, won the Houghton Stakes at Newmarket. In 1972 she took the Prix de Royallieu, but one who did even better was Attica Meli (Primera-Come On Honey), whom he acquired with the Sassoon bloodstock. She won her last five races that year including the Yorkshire Oaks, Park Hill and Princess Royal Stakes.

Freedman's increasing prominence in racing resulted in his appointment as Racehorse Owners' Association president for 1973-74 and election to the Jockey Club in 1975. He served as a steward from 1979 to 1986 and was deputy senior steward in 1981 and 1983.

Freedman gained his first Classic win in 1974, when the home-bred Polygamy took the Oaks, although she was lucky because Dibidale, who was third home but was disqualified, was hampered by a slipping saddle. Dibidale easily gained her revenge in the Irish Oaks.

Polygamy was an early example of Freedman's flair for naming horses, for she was by Reform out of Seventh Bride.

OTHER fillies who did well for Freedman in 1974 were Mil's Bomb, who won the Lancashire Oaks, Nassau and Park Hill Stakes, and Great Guns, who struck six times.

The following year he sold Beech House to concentrate his breeding interests at Cliveden. That season, Polygamy's full-sister One Over Parr took the Cheshire and Lancashire Oaks.

In 1977, Royal Hive (Royal Palace-Come On Honey) became the first good horse trained for Freedman by Henry Cecil, who gradually replaced Walwyn as his chief trainer. Royal Hive, a half-sister to Attica Meli, emulated that filly by winning the Park Hill and was also runner-up in the Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille.

The next top-level runner to carry Freedman's yellow and black colours was Home On The Range, who was later dam of Reference Point. Home On The Range, a daughter of Habitat and Great Guns, included the 1981 Sun Chariot Stakes among her successes.

In the same colours, One Way Street (Habitat-Guillotina) won the Princess Royal Stakes and Ever Genial (Brigadier Gerard-Shorthouse) the May Hill Stakes in 1984, and the following year Ever Genial won the Hungerford Stakes.

Mill On The Floss (Mill Reef-Milly Moss) was placed in the Ribblesdale Stakes, Lancashire Oaks and Princess Royal Stakes in 1986, but the high spot of that year was the runaway victory by Reference Point (Mill Reef- Home On The Range) in the Futurity (now Racing Post Trophy) at Doncaster, a display which resulted in the colt topping the Free Handicap.

Freedman had long nursed dreams of having a horse good enough to win the Triple Crown, and in Reference Point he thought he might have found him. Cecil, though, sounded caution about trying to get the colt ready for the 2,000 Guineas over a trip which could well have proved too sharp for him, and in any case other events took a hand. Reference Point developed a serious sinus infection in the spring of his three-year-old days which ruled out the Guineas, and at one stage Cecil was dubious about the prospects of getting the colt fit for Epsom.

The gloom was dispelled, though, when Reference Point made a winning comeback in the Dante Stakes before making all in the Derby, beating Most Welcome by a length and a half.

Reference Point found the year-older Mtoto three-parts of a length too good in the Eclipse before a repeat of his tenacious front-running tactics resulted in victory by three lengths and a neck from Celestial Storm and Triptych in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Victory at long odds-on in the Great Voltigeur Stakes preceded success in the St Leger, and though his career ended in defeat in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe-he was eighth to Trempolino-he was later found to have been suffering from an abscess in a foot.

During Reference Point's racing career, Freedman sold a share in him to Sheikh Mohammed, and it was to the Sheikh's Dalham Hall Stud that the son of Mill Reef retired for a short career as a stallion.

Although Reference Point was the jewel in the 1987 Freedman crown, he was not on his own, as the exploits of others in the same colours enabled Cliveden to top the breeders' list for the year. Queen Midas (Glint Of Gold-Star Court) won the Ribblesdale and Shooting Party landed a good handicap at Ascot.

In 1988, Overdrive (Shirley Heights-Milly Moss) won the Queen Alexandra Stakes and Reference Point's half-brother Known Ranger (by Known Fact) took the Bradford & Bingley Handicap.

In April of that year, Freedman transferred the ownership of his bloodstock to the Cliveden Stud Company and put in charge his younger son Philip, a merchant banker who was later to become chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association.

The first official comment by Freedman senior was that the operation needed a younger man to run it, but there was more to it than that. Earlier in the year, an employee of The People newspaper had made allegations in the paper and on television that Freedman had been party to an illegal deal with Lester Piggott about the jockey's retainer.

The subsequent rumblings of this affair ended with Piggott being sent to prison for tax evasion and fraud, but Freedman was so upset by the allegations that he reduced his public involvement in racing.

His libel case against The People, two of its staff and its then editor came to court the following year and was settled out of court after three days. Freedman received undisclosed but "substantial" damages and costs which amounted to about pounds 300,000; he described himself as "delighted" with the outcome.

In 1990, Freedman won the King Edward VII Stakes with Private Tender (Shirley Heights-Select Sale) and the Park Hill Stakes (his fourth victory in the race) and Prix de Royallieu with Madame Dubois (Legend Of France- Shadywood).

During the 1990s, the Freedmans continued to send horses with fine pedigrees (and as well named as ever) into training, with Roger Charlton and US- based Neil Drysdale joining their list of trainers in 1993 and Julie Cecil dropping out in 1994, but success proved increasingly harder to achieve.

In 1992 Hatta's Mill (Green Desert-Mill On The Floss) was second in the Predominate Stakes, and in 1994 Red Route (Polish Precedent-One Way Street), trained by Cecil, took the Bahrain Trophy and Geoffrey Freer Stakes. As a result the colt started favourite for the St Leger but was unplaced.

THE same year, Milly Ha Ha (Dancing Brave-Mill On The Floss) was fourth in the Yorkshire Oaks and third in the Princess Royal Stakes.

Freedman gained immense pleasure in 1996 when his son Philip, who had been chairman of the TBA council, joined him as a member of the Jockey Club, but once again the racing year for Cliveden was a low-key affair, though Dacha won the Cecil Frail Handicap at Haydock.

In the last two seasons, the best horse to carry the Freedman silks was Daggers Drawn, a grandson of Shadywood. He won three out of four in 1997, including the July and Richmond Stakes, and was one of Europe's leading juveniles, though his Classic season this year was disappointing.

Freedman is survived by his three children Clive, Philip and Maralyn.

GEORGE ENNOR
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Ennor, George
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 23, 1998
Words:1697
Previous Article:Stateside.
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