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Emma Freedman… A Fine Young Filly

By James Hutton on March 31, 2013 in People

Photo: Andrew Goldie

Photo: Andrew Goldie

During the month The Beast caught up with Channel Nine star and David Jones race wear ambassador Emma Freedman…

Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from Victoria. I grew up all around Victoria, whether it be Melbourne or down on the peninsula. I just moved up to Sydney last year so it’s a bit of a change of pace and scenery.

And you’ve been spending a bit of time around the Eastern Suburbs, I believe?
Yes, I’ve been hanging around Paddington and it’s been a nice change. It’s very busy, which is a bit different for me because I’m quite quiet – well not vocally, but in terms of what I do in my downtime.

What do you love about the Eastern Suburbs?
Sometimes it’s pretty frenetic but I’ve been loving trivia on Monday nights at the London Hotel. I also love running around Centennial Park and I love a lunch at Bistro Moncur with my other half on a nice Sunday if we’ve had a really hard week. And I love Randwick Racecourse, of course.

Do you get down to Royal Randwick much?
Well for work, yeah. I come to track work every now and then for work to shoot things or to interview people or to do profiles and I often go to the races, both for work and for fun.

You’re pretty much the go to person as soon as there’s a horse involved, aren’t you?
I guess you’ve experienced that today. I guess it’s a bit unusual for a young woman to be so into racing and into horses but it’s how I’ve grown up and what I’m into.

What’s your role in the autumn carnival this year?
I’m a David Jones race wear ambassador, so I’ll be going to David Jones Derby Day and we have a big marquee there. It’s a great day of racing, dressing up in our black and white. Aside from that I get to go socially a little bit this year because Nine doesn’t have the rights to the racing anymore. Typically over the last four or five years I’ve been to every single big race meeting in the country working from 11am to 6pm but this year’s a bit different. I get to go for enjoyment. I’ve just purchased my membership.

So you do go to the races as a regular patron?
Absolutely. I literally just bought memberships my boyfriend Tim and I. I’ll get to go every week socially now and actually watch the racing, because when you’re reporting it you don’t get to watch it, you’re there just trying to get your job done. It will be nice to take a further look into Sydney racing because I haven’t had the opportunity yet.

Are you a punter? Will you be having a flutter?
A very small flutter. I’m not a big punter – $5 here, $5 there, maybe $10 each way if you’re lucky.

Do your mates come to you for tips?
I have a lot of people asking for tips and I’ve just sworn off it because racing is a funny game. You can never predict what’s going to happen. You might have favourites but they’re not shoe-ins to get up. They’re never always going to win the chocolates. People can get really like angry at you if you’ve tipped them and something’s gone amiss, so just keep it to myself.

Do you prefer the horses or the fashion?
I probably shouldn’t be saying this but probably the horses. It’s a good combination though. I think Australian racing has got the combination right. We’re the only country in the world where I’ve seen equal parts fashion and racing, more or less. That’s a really smart way of looking at racing because you definitely get more people to attend meetings by incorporating that glamour element. My job does require me to dress up and to showcase what’s hot and what people should be wearing to the track and I think that’s a really important part of racing because you want to look good and feel good about yourself when you head to the races. But in saying that, I enjoy just hanging out with the horses and just being at one with nature.

Do you have a favourite designer at the moment?
The dress I wore today (for The Beast cover shoot) was by Ellery and she is killing it. We’ve just started stocking her at David Jones and her collection in our recent autumn/winter parade was amazing. Her stuff’s very directional, very feminine and quite perfect for the races – to the knee, cap sleeve, not too much skin, a little bit edgy, white for David Jones Derby Day – it’s a perfect frock. Other designers that I frequently go to for race wear are Camilla & Marc, Ginger and Smart, Scanlan and Theodore, Alex Perry, Collette Dinnigan and Willow.

Do you get along to many fashion shows?
Only the David Jones ones. I’m not into all the hoo ha. I find that Sydney’s a very socially driven city and whilst that’s nice, there seems to be a lot of pressure on people to frock up and be friends with this person and talk to that person. I’m not really into that. I would rather be at home hanging out with Tim or getting my work done.

You’ve mentioned Tim a couple of times; can you tell us a bit about your boyfriend?
Tim and I have been going out for three years. He’s from Tumut and we live together and he’s a cameraman at Nine but also a professional skier. So our lives are really television, racing and skiing.

Should we be expecting racing royalty wedding bells any time soon?
Not soon; maybe in the future. It’s hard to say, but I did get a very nice pair of earrings for Christmas. We’re very happy and he’s very good at what he does and I think part of why we work so well together is that we work together and it works really well. I know a lot of people say never work with your other half but we haven’t found it to be a problem.

Why should Beast readers get down to Randwick for the autumn carnival?
For starters they’ll get a preview of the new development at Royal Randwick, including the Amphitheatre of the Horse, which is going to be incredible. There’s also the possibility, all things going well, that Black Caviar could head up here for one or two starts over the carnival. And on top of that, the fashion and glamour of Randwick is amazing and the racing is going to be sensational. We’ve got David Jones Derby Day, Doncaster Day and Sydney Cup Day. You can’t ask for much more than that.

I read that you’re a bit of a runner; have you smashed out a marathon yet?
I have not smashed out one, and this is why I haven’t done a marathon – listen really closely (Emma’s knee makes a disturbing crunching sound). So I’ve had to curb the running a little bit but I’m still very active and do a lot of yoga.

Did you ever think you’d become like a weather girl?

How did that job come about?
I did a degree in communications and I was working at Racing Victoria and I went to a David Jones event and happened to meet one of the producers of the Today Show. He said, “Have you ever considered doing the weather” and I was like, ‘”No, no not really; I’m just happy doing what I’m doing” and then they rang back and said, “We’d love you to fill in for Steve while he is on holidays” and so I did. I’m pretty sure I was absolutely atrocious at first but thank god I’ve gotten better since.

Is it a fun job?
There’s a lot of travel involved, which can be so much fun because you get to see amazing places and spend time with great crew but it can get a little bit tough on your family life and your friendships, especially when you work weekends. But we get to do crazy, fun stuff.

What’s the most embarrassing thing to have happened to you on air?
It’s such a self deprecating job. I always seem to be in harnesses, abseiling and stuff, and I had a pair of white pants on once with a harness and I just think that was a really bad visual for everyone to have to take in. And while I’m not scared of snakes, when they wrap around me they always venture down into the nether regions, which is awkward for me but probably more awkward to watch. I’ve also swallowed a fly on air before when I was actually reading the weather.

Did you push through it?
No, I spat it out and showed everyone. Every day there’s something embarrassing.

Being quite short in stature, how is it when you have to stand next to the likes of Miranda Kerr and Samantha Harris at David Jones events?
I had to host a workshop with Miranda in Melbourne recently and she’s just a specimen; it’s just not fair. You do feel a little bit awkward but I’m never going to be 6’4” and I’m never going to have long limbs. When you’re standing next to them, I think society to a certain extent does promote that as the ideal body shape and it makes you do feel a bit less than ideal. But I’ve got other attributes. I can talk the leg off a chair.

How was it working with Miranda? Is she a good bird?
Yeah, Miranda is a lot of fun. She’s quirky and that appeals to me. She’s got a beautiful nature about her and a great soul as well. She’s a great ambassador for David Jones because she’s so natural. She’s just a regular Aussie girl and she’s still got that country twang, which I love. She’s still just Miranda from Gunnedah.

What’s it like working as part of the team on Today and Weekend Today?
They’re a great mob. We’re doing really well on the ratings. We’ve got a new executive producer who’s got some great ideas and our hosts, Karl (Stefanovic), Lisa (Wilkinson), Cam (Williams) and Leila (McKinnon), are doing an amazing job and will continue to do so for a few more years yet. They’re very supportive as well. I’m the youngest on the team by a good few years and on Australia Day Lisa invited me over to her house for an Australia Day barbecue. It was pretty weird because Lisa and her husband Pete (FitzSimons) are friends with such successful, well known people and I was standing there going, “Why am I here?”

What’s the most memorable story you’ve covered?
Probably the floods two years ago up in Queensland. I was in gumboots for a month and it’s kind of hard to get out of your head. A lot of people in Queensland are really used to those conditions but those floods exceeded everyone’s worst expectations. You see people lose everything and it’s just heart breaking. I’ve also got a story coming up on Wide World of Sports about Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin, who is the world snowboard cross champion. That was memorable because he’s such a ripper guy and I was amazingly impressed. These up and coming athletes have to work so hard and they’re just such model citizens in terms of the way that they conduct themselves. I came away from that interviewing feeling like I really need to do something more with my life.

Where do you see your journalism career taking you in the future?
I’m probably heading more in the sport direction. I’m getting there now and while I love doing weather, I can probably see myself in ten years being a little more involved with sport. I guess sport’s really my passion.

Do you play any sport?
No, I’ve never played many sports. I played sport at school but that’s about it.

Are you a footy fan?
I’m an AFL fan.

Who do you support?

So you’re not into league or union?
My dad was very into rugby union but our family was never into league. It’s just something I have to learn and I need to go to a few more games. I’d like to learn a bit more about league because I think the image that is portrayed in the media is not always great and I think there are probably a lot more positive things about it that don’t necessarily get talked about.

Is your old man a Sydneysider originally?
He’s a Yass boy. And my mum’s from Young. So a very rural NSW kind of family.

Was there any pressure from your folks to stay in the racing industry?
No, but I think there is a natural inclination to be involved in racing if it’s been in your family for so long. There was no pressure to ride or to train or to be involved but I’m just so passionate about it that I feel that every opportunity I get to promote the sport, especially to a younger audience, is an opportunity I have to take. It’s a big industry and it’s a great industry. A lot of the people involved are really wonderful people who just love racing, love horses and just want to make sure that it’s alive and kicking for a good while yet, so I’m happy to support that cause.

Your old man’s trained five Melbourne Cup winners; did you have a hand in any of the successes?
Yes. It was 1989, I was two years old and we had a horse called Tawriffic, a big stallion who was going to race in the Cup. He wasn’t too fancied; he was considered a bit of an underdog. At that stage we lived in Moonee Ponds with the horses out the back. It was a pretty grotty house and I think all my aunties and uncles were living there at the time so there were a lot of people and not many bedrooms. My mum couldn’t find me one afternoon and she was yelling out, “Emma! Where’s Emma? Where’s she gone?” She eventually found me in between Tawriffic’s front two legs on a plastic chair, reading him a book and picking his chestnuts, which are little growths on a horse’s knees. Mum had to coax me out gently because it was obviously a bloody big horse and I was tiny. She got me out of there eventually and the horse wasn’t fazed at all. Two days later he won the Melbourne Cup – you do the maths.

Do you own any horses yourself?
Yes I do. I own a filly called Flirtatious, who was won two races – one at Royal Terang and another one at Mornington.

Are you in a syndicate with some mates?
Yeah, I’m in with a bunch of people from Channel Nine – Sarah Harris, Amber Sherlock, Ali Langdon and Alicia Gorey. And I’ve just gotten into another filly by Flying Spur, but she doesn’t have a name yet. We’ve only just bought her.

Has it been a good investment?
A horse is rarely a good investment. You do it for the love, not for the investment. You’ve got to get very lucky. Tim has actually bought into a horse that has proved to be a fairly good investment but he just had some pretty serious knee issues and the vet bills are causing some stress. But you only do it for fun and love.

Do you have any fashion tips for those attending the upcoming autumn carnival, what is in, what should people be wearing?
Always adhere to the race wear rules which are thou shalt wear a dress to the knee or just above, cap sleeve, winter trims, not too much skin. If you’re going to Derby Day black and white, if you’re going to Sydney Cup Day bright colours, if you’re going to Doncaster we say classic autumn elegance. When it comes to millinery, we’re in autumn so felt, no straw. Keep it tonal, don’t go too mental and have fun with print.

What about the boys?
Don’t wear white shoes. Is that enough? And I like a bow tie on a boy. I think that’s very smart.

Will you be dressing Tim for the races?
I do a little bit. Just a gentle push, nothing too dramatic. He’s definitely had to purchase more suits since going out with me. He owned one suit before we started going out and now he has three or four.

Where does he shop for his suits?
David Jones, of course

Do you have any other general tips for people to ensure people have a good day at the races?
Wear your shoes before you head to the track because no one wants to see anyone walking out of the racecourse holding their heels over their shoulder. A bag with a strap for a girl is really handy because it means you can balance your form guide and your glass of champagne. Polish up your sunglasses with a bit of Windex before you go. And just pace yourself.

Do you have a career highlight thus far?
God, it’s only just begun, hopefully. I’m pretty happy with what’s happened over the last five years. The travelling has probably been the highlight. I’ve been to the States, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and a few more. Some of the race meetings I’ve been able to cover have been pretty special as well, particularly those that Black Caviar has raced at. They’re always memorable because she just draws such a crowd and she’s just breathtaking.

Have you met Black Caviar?
Yes. Actually, I’ve got a great photo with her, from before she hit the big time.

Is Black Caviar the most famous person you’ve met?

Have you met anyone who has really taken your breath away?
When I met Tina Arena I nearly shat myself because I loved her as a child. I absolutely loved her. And I hosted a workshop with Nicole Richie too, which was pretty cool.

Do you support any charities?
I’m an ambassador for the Ponting Foundation. I used to work for Ricky Ponting, actually. And one of my dad’s brothers is mentally handicapped and he lives down on the Mornington Peninsula at a residence called Focus, so we often do fundraisers for them as well. I’ve also done some great work with the Sony Foundation and I give blood.

Do you have any advice for youngsters looking to get into television journalism?
Work hard, be yourself, be nice. I’m still learning so I’m not a guru but I think they’re three good things to live by. That’s what I try to live by.

In an ideal world, what does the future hold for Emma Freedman?
Personally, I’d like a couple of kids, a nice house, lots of travel, a dog and to just be happy. Professionally, I’d like to get more work with Channel Nine and David Jones, host a show one day, pursue the sports side of things a little bit more, and do some writing. But I don’t really like to plan too much now. You obviously need to have some goals some visions of where you want to go but at 24 years old I think it’s a bit much to be planning out where I want to be professionally in 15 years time, don’t you reckon?