Show Jumper. Pre-Trainer. Bull Rider. Yearling Preparer. Breaker. He may be a man of few words, but Daisy Hill Farm Manager Shane Freeman is an astute horseman with a wealth of experience under his belt.
Shane grew up in country New South Wales surrounded by horses. His family were heavily involved in the world of show jumping. At the age of 16, during his school holidays, he began working at Gerry Harvey’s Barramul Stud in the Widden Valley.
His show jumping led him to Cork, Ireland and into the stables of respected horseman Tom Busteed. In between the competitions, they’d be pre-training thoroughbreds or breaking in steeplechasers and national hunt horses, which have a reputation for being strongly built, bullish and very unpredictable.
After spending three years on the Emerald Isle, Shane headed back home to continue his show jumping, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“I quickly realised I didn’t have the money to keep continuing with it,” said Shane.
“So I secured a job at Yarraman Park Stud, working with their yearlings. And so my (racehorse career) has gone on from there.”
Situated in NSW’s Hunter Valley, Shane credits farm Director, Harry Mitchell, for teaching him a lot during his time there.
“Harry taught me to keep everything simple,” recalls Shane.
“At the end of the day, they’re horses. They need to be fed. They need to be clean. It’s not rocket science.”
Harry was also not adverse to his staff having outside pursuits, allowing Shane one night off during the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sales so he could attend the Sydney Royal Easter Show and compete in the Champions Challenge Bull Riding competition.
His career then took him to one of NSW’s best private farms, Woodlands Park, working for Scott Holt and Peter Flynn. Prior to its purchase by Darley in 2008, Woodlands Park was owned by famed ‘chicken kings’ Jack and Bob Ingham.
Snitzel. Fastnet Rock. Fairy King Prawn. Two outstanding racehorses turned champion sires, one dual Hong Kong Horse of The Year winner. All broken in by Shane. Despite working with these amazing thoroughbreds, he calls two other Group 1 winning mares as his feature breakers.
“Rewaaya and Bollinger are my standouts,” said Shane.
“Despite Harry holding onto her, Bollinger flipper over on me four times on the first day!”
Enjoying the diversity working in the breeding industry provides, his career has allowed him the opportunity to experience so much and learn from many.
“Compared to Australia, Ireland has a completely different way of doing things,” said Shane.
“You’ve got to be fluid in this industry. Some people think I’m crazy the way I do things. But you have to take it all and apply it to what works for your farm and for the individual horses. You can’t always stick to a definitive routine.”
Shane now calls Victoria home, having moved to Doreen’s Daisy Hill in late 2016 to work alongside Directors Colleen and Kevin Bamford. With sale season now over, their attention now turns to the handling of weanlings, dry mares and foal preparation, as well as regular thoroughbred rehabilitation work.
There’s nothing monotonous about Shane’s life and something tells you he likes it like that.
Hoofnote: What is Grassroots? Grassroots is a new segment of the TBV weekly newsletter, which aims to showcase people in our industry and the stories they have to tell. Each week, we will aim to bring you a new story of someone’s background, experience and passion.