If there’s any proof required that horse trainers only want a
level playing field when it suits them, then look no further than Lee “will she
or won’t she” Freedman.

You suspect that part of the whole media circus surrounding the intentions of Makybe Diva’s trainer is Freedman
relishing this non-stop media spotlight. But while he’s also being perhaps a bit too
cute in playing out his horse opera literally to the curtain call, there’s also
some very sound reasoning behind his continuing silence about a start.

Of course, he only wants the best for the horse and has consistently
issued various warnings to punters to hold off backing his champion
until such time as a decision is made one way or another. But on one
point he has been categorical – that the track has to have some give in
the ground. A hard track and the Diva is a no show.

How the worm has turned with local trainers since
Dermott Weld lashed out at the ridiculously hard cup track in 2002 after his
horses Vinnie Roe and Media Puzzle jarred up badly, despite the latter winning
that year. By the following
September, Weld was warning that if Flemington was in similar condition that
year, he and fellow European trainers would simply bypass bringing their horses
to Melbourne in future.

While the VRC now heeds his commonsense warning and
carefully monitors and applies last minute watering of the track if required for
some “give” in the surface, back in 2002 a posse of local trainers howled in
protest that Weld was dictating his ideal conditions for the cup surface. Yet now Freedman is applying exactly the same
kind of pressure for his own
horse.

The fact that he continues to talk up a hard surface as a certainty
to see Diva scratched might ensure that the track is just that much
more obliging in its “give” come Cup Day. Because, the longer he has
the VRC sweating on his decision, the more likely the track is to be
Diva-friendly on Tuesday morning, whether man made or nature driven.