Freedman's pint-sized filly punching above her weight

5 min read

Written by Anthony Manton

Trainer Richard Freedman debuts Outback Diva (More Than Ready {USA}) at Kembla Grange on Tuesday and although the filly is perhaps the smallest horse he’s ever trained, she’s not letting her size hold her back on the track.

“When she first arrived at the stables I thought she was a yearling she was so small,” said Freedman.

Despite her small frame Outback Diva appears to have above average ability as she has displayed winning both her lead-up barrier trials.

Richard Freedman

Freedman first sent Outback Diva to the trials at Rosehill prior to Christmas on December 4 and admits he didn’t have high expectations initially.

“When she first arrived at the stables I thought she was a yearling she was so small,”- Richard Freedman.

“Her first trial I just expected her to follow them around for practice. I certainly didn’t expect her to win the trial and beat a subsequent provincial winner,” said Freedman.

Outback Diva won that first trial at Rosehill and defeated A Fortunate Lass (Hinchinbrook) which later that month went to Hawkesbury and won on debut.

After that first trial, Outback Diva was given a four-month break, again more time for her to develop and perhaps grow some more before her next campaign.

“She got a little broader as a 3-year-old but she hasn’t gotten any taller and still only weighs a tick over 400kg,” said Freedman.

Freedman trialled Outback Diva for a second time on April 8 and if he was surprised with her first trial she went even better at her second.

Outback Diva began well and showed great barrier speed to lead the trial easily and into the straight had opened-up a 4-5 length lead. She was so far in front that jockey Rachel Hunt had time to peak over her left shoulder at the 250 metre-mark to see how far in front she was, winning the trial by a widening 6 lengths, leaving recent Warwick Farm winner Zouologist (Zoustar) in her wake.

“Although she is only small she’s got a motor on her and once she gets wound-up she just keeps going. She looks to have city class ability for sure,” said Freedman.

Due to her size, Outback Diva was purchased for what now looks a bargain price. Clients paid just $12,000 for Outback Diva at the 2017 Magic Millions National Yearling Sale.

Outback Diva pictured as a yearling

“I’m sure the fact that she was so small held her back as a yearling and they picked her up for what appears now quite cheap,” said Freedman.

“I’m sure the fact that she was so small held her back as a yearling and they picked her up for what appears now quite cheap,” said Richard Freedman

Outback Diva’s pedigree page defies her purchase price as well. Her dam Ready Diva is by Redoute’s Choice and is a daughter of multiple-stakes winner Arrabeea (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}), a half-sister to stakes-winner Marie Claire (O’Reilly {NZ}).

Outback Diva is bred on the same cross as recent stakes-winning 2-year-old filly Kooweerup (More Than Ready {USA}), being by More Than Ready (USA) from a Redoute’s Choice mare. Kooweerup was a $650,000 yearling purchase for Yu Long Investments in 2018 and won the Group 3 Breeders’ Stakes at Morphettville over the weekend to remain unbeaten in her two career starts.

While Freedman doesn’t think Outback Diva will grow much bigger, he believes what she lacks in size she makes up for with toughness.

“She has had to fend for herself at the stables and in her track-work and although she is small she doesn’t let herself get bullied around,” - Richard Freedman

“She has had to fend for herself at the stables and in her track-work and although she is small she doesn’t let herself get bullied around,” said Freedman.

Freedman has had success in the past with horses that have displayed similar physical characteristics and says it’s not always a negative.

“We [Freedman Brothers] trained a horse called Poetic King (Yeats {USA}) years ago who wasn’t much bigger and he was a terrific sprinter,” said Freedman.

Poetic King won fourteen races including three at Group 1 level and over $1 million in prize-money for the Freedman Brothers in the early 90’s.

“If she turns out to be good she’ll have a cult following. Punters love a horse with a bit of character or quirkiness and she’s got loads of that,” said Richard Freedman

Outback Diva looks really well placed for her debut at Kembla Grange, although Freedman concedes the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott trained Dreaming For More (Dream Ahead {USA}) is the hardest to beat.

“Gai’s horse will probably come out and lead and will be hard to catch but our filly is not a one-dimensional speedster and she can take a sit and still finish off strongly,” said Freedman.

Freedman believes the pint-sized filly will be quite popular amongst racing fans who will rally behind the little filly.

“If she turns out to be good she’ll have a cult following. Punters love a horse with a bit of character or quirkiness and she’s got loads of that,” said Freedman.