On numbers alone, trainer Michael Freedman is sending the clear message he intends to mix it with the upper echelon of Sydney stables.
His oldest horse is three, and about 90 per cent of the 60 on his books are two-year-olds.
In a city dominated by a handful of major operations, Freedman has opted to rebuild his team from the ground up since relocating from Singapore.
Darhad is the third two-year-old Freedman has produced this season after Bowerman, who finished third in the Listed Breeders’ Plate, and Grasslands who finished down the track in the Gimcrack Stakes.
The Chris Waller-trained Madame Moustache nosed out Darhad when he made his debut on October 15 and Freedman is hoping he can go one better in Saturday’s $150,000 Pierro Plate (1100m) at Rosehill.
“He was probably just beaten by one that had the race experience and fitness,” Freedman told AAP.
“I think he’s trained on pretty well so I’m looking for a good run on Saturday.”
Darhad cost $370,000 at the Magic Millions yearling sale.
Freedman said a good run on Saturday would prompt him to seriously consider a tilt at the $2 million Magic Millions Classic in January.
Darhad is the $3.80 favourite to open his winning account while Jim and Greg Lee-trained Lightz is at $4.60.
Godolphin debutant Epidemic is a $4.80 chance and the Gary Portelli-trained Ibanez is at $6.
Freedman won 12 Group One races during his eight years training in Singapore.
His older brothers Lee and Anthony train in partnership at Flemington and have three horses still in the running for a Melbourne Cup start next week, while media personality Richard holds a training licence to pre-train Michael’s horses at Hawkesbury.
After relocating his base more than 6000km to Rosehill, Freedman made the less arduous transition to Randwick when boxes became available earlier in the year.
“It’s taken a little while to settle in properly and get systems in place and good staff which I think we’ve got now,” Freedman said.
“It’s been a bit of a disrupted year but by and large it’s been good and we’re starting to get a few more to the track.”