Horse What Type Of E Figure For 2 Year Old George Freeman: Australian Racing Identity

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George Freeman: Australian Racing Identity

George David Freeman was a controversial figure in Australian horse racing history. He was a gambler and racing commission agent born to a builders assistant in Annandale, Sydney on 22 January 1935. His father, William David Freeman left the family when George was young while his mother remarried a criminal. However, it was short because his stepfather died soon after. A struggling childhood in a two-room slum forced George into a life of crime, with his first imprisonment as a 12-year-old for stealing.

At the age of 14, he became a stable boy as his criminal ways continued with separate convictions for car theft and a smash-and-grab attack. For this he was sent back to the Mount Penang Training School, Gosford, and then to the Tamworth Boys’ Home for persistent misconduct. After his release in January 1953, Freeman was back in the Parramatta prison for stealing again in 1954, where he met his childhood hero, Darcy Dugan, a notorious prison escapee. Several prison terms followed for petty theft. The last time Freeman saw prison guards was in 1968, in Fremantle, Western Australia. In between, he married a divorcee, Marcia Bedford in 1963 in Sydney. His criminal associations extended to the United States, which he visited on a false passport as a guest of Joe Testa, a member of a crime syndicate with interests in Australia. Their association continued during Testa’s visits to Sydney in 1969 and 1971.

From 1971, Freeman turned to horse racing as a commission agent and illegal activities as an off-course SP betting operator. Organized crime is said to have flourished under his rule in the state, during a period where corruption was rampant between police and politicians. Among his most important involvements in illegal betting was his involvement of a syndicate that won the Canberra Totalizator Agency Board jackpot of 500,000 USD. However, Freeman continued to deny any knowledge of the crime.

Freeman was also known for hatching a plot to bribe politicians to gain control of the Gaming Board in June 1976, which was known as the “Taiping plot”. The plan was allegedly hatched in Taiping Restaurant, Elizabeth Street, Sydney, on 22 June 1976, where gaming operators were asked to bribe politicians and the authorities.

Freeman’s wife divorced him in 1977.

His notoriety made him an “excludable person” in the United States where he was arrested in 1978. The same year he was also identified as a member of organized crime gangs by the New South Wales parliament. That didn’t stop Freeman from showing off his wealth, acquiring a huge waterfront mansion at Yowie Bay, Port Hacking, complete with security systems and guard dogs.

Police intelligence continued to follow Freeman, finally tabling a report of his illegal off-course betting activities in parliament in 1979. PM Woodward’s royal commission into drug matters recognized Freeman and was named as the leader. He survived gunshot wounds to the neck from an unknown assailant in April 1979. Freeman went on to remarry 24-year-old orthoptist and former actress, Georgina McLoughlin.

Running illegal gaming houses, charges of murder, and assault were common with Freeman. One of his most famous scandals in horse racing was the ‘Mr. Digby affair’ at Canterbury in 1981 where he got a tremendous dive. Owned by Freeman, Mr Digby produced a remarkable reversal of form to woo home by seven lengths despite racing back just two days earlier. However, his only convictions for illegal betting came in 1983 with a fine of $500, and a fine of $5,000 in 1986. Great Britain imposed an entry ban on Freeman and his wife in 1985 due to his notoriety.

Mostly, Freeman was a gentle man, a smart dresser who ruled Sydney’s underworld. He published his autobiography of his life, George Freeman: An Autobiography, with candid accounts of his crime-related life. Freeman died of frailty caused by asthma and kidney disease at Caringbah, and was buried in Waverly cemetery on 20 March 1990.

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