Auvray has proved a labour of love for Richard Freedman, a pet project that vindicates his return to full-scale training.
Freedman needed coaxing back to a hands-on role in the industry by his trainer brother Michael, and a challenging French import means he has no regrets.
Richard Freedman left training in 1999 to focus on business and media interests while siblings Lee, Anthony and Michael kept the famous stable going.
After returning to Australia from a nine-year stint in Singapore, Michael Freedman convinced Richard to pre-train for him at Hawkesbury about two years ago.
When Michael relocated to Hong Kong last April, Richard focused on his own stable at Rosehill.
Auvray joined the operation after John Thompson and Darren Weir each had four attempts to get him to the winners’ stall after he arrived from Europe in late 2014.
“I was pre-training him and when Michael left I said ‘I’ll train him’ and I was very lucky the China Horse Club didn’t have a real plan for him because he’s been such a difficult horse,” Freedman said.
Auvray first raced for Freedman last April and has recorded three wins and two placings from 14 starts.
Auvray won his most recent start in the Group Three Sky High Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 17, a performance that encouraged Freedman to add Saturday’s Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) to his program before the Group One Sydney Cup.
Freedman finally worked out the the stayer’s fitness was an issue so he works him twice a day, every day.
“I’ve never had a horse as resilient as him who can lap up the work and still get fat,” he said.
“A lot of horses would fall by the wayside on that sort of regime but not him.”
The Freedman brothers, headed by Hall of Fame trainer Lee, won the Tancred Stakes with Makybe Diva in 2005 and now Richard will go head to head with his brother Anthony in the Tancred.
With Lee now training in Singapore, Anthony runs a stable at Mornington in Victoria.
He has Japanese import Ambitious as a $15 chance behind favourite Gailo Chop ($2.30). Auvray was quoted at $9.50 by the TAB on Friday.
Richard Freedman has housed Ambitious this week and downplayed the significance of any sibling rivalry.
“It hasn’t occurred to us that this is anything special,” he said.