Athlete Betty Cuthbert and horse trainer Richard Freyer knew how to be first to the finishing line

TWO giants in their sporting worlds have reached life’s finishing line after making big race wins their speciality.

Corowa trainer Richard Freyer, who died on Monday after a fight with cancer, was a colossus in Riverina racing.

He won 16 successive Southern District Racing Association trainers’ premierships and an eye-popping 12 Corowa Cups, 10 Berrigan Cups and eight Albury Gold Cups.

“He's a bit like the Bart Cummings of Berrigan,” Berrigan Race Club secretary Brent Bonat said after Freyer claimed his ninth Berrigan Cup in 2009.

Sprinter Betty Cuthbert, who lived with multiple sclerosis for more than 40 years died at the age of 79.

Three times, between 1956 in Melbourne and 1964 in Tokyo, she won individual Olympic crowns, earning her the nickname Australia’s Golden Girl.

Champions in their respective fields, Freyer and Cuthbert capitalised on outstanding talents.

Freyer trained a string of outstanding horses, with his most notable nationally Leica Falcon, which finished fourth in the 2005 Melbourne Cup at odds of 9/2.

For Freyer training horses was really a family tradition. He followed his father Jack into the field and then was pursued by his son Rick.

However, Freyer defied his 190cm height to be a successful amateur jockey before emerging as a top trainer.

“I'm pretty sure I was the tallest jockey in Australia at the time, even among the amateurs,” he told The Border Mail in 2004.

Having shaped the Albury Gold Cup over decades it would be appropriate if a race was named in his honour on a program at the Border’s biggest crowd-pulling track.

Cuthbert, like Freyer was a self-effacing character, who let her deeds best reflect her achievements.

Her mouth agape running style was far from a textbook technique but it saw her notch nine world records and Olympic gold in the 100, 200 and 400 metres.

Cuthbert’s raw teenage excitement typified the Friendly Games of Melbourne but she also added poignancy to Australia’s only other Olympics in Sydney in 2000.

Pushed in her wheelchair by fellow sprinter Raelene Boyle, Cuthbert bore the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony.

It was a goose-bump moment, just one of many on race tracks that involved Cuthbert or Freyer. Vale.

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