Big roll out for Benny Hill
13 March 2019
NZ HARNESS NEWS - photo courtesy of Race Images
He’s got his biggest racing team in a long time this weekend, but winning won’t not be everything for trainer Brendon Hill.
The North Canterbury horseman will line up eight runners over the course of two meetings on Friday and Saturday with teams at both Addington on Friday night and then Wyndham on Saturday and with some pretty serious horse flesh in the arsenal, he’s hopeful of some success.
But he’ll be just as happy to see a couple of his stable stars get through their resuming runs with no problems.
The first of those comes on Friday night when the striking Cullenburn kicks back into action and begins his preparations for the Superstars Championship in a fortnight and his trainer was pretty straight up and down when it came to how he thinks he’ll fair.
“You’d like to think he’ll be pretty hard to beat,” Hill said.
“He races well in a fresh state and with some of the goals we’ve got for the rest of the season, I’d expect him to go close.”
Win, lose or draw on Friday night, Cullenburn will miss next week’s premier meeting with Hill keen to keep his races well spread with the Superstars his main initial aim and then potentially a trip to Auckland to tackle the age group features there.
“He’ll tell us, but that’s the plan – he goes better when his races are spread out so we’re going to miss next week and then go straight into the Superstars.
“Then we’ll know exactly where we are at going forward.”
Cullenburn will be joined at Addington by Cullens Bet, Koromiko Eyre and Double O Heaven, the latter two of which give Korbyn Newman good chances at his first driving success.
On Saturday at Wyndham, it will be all eyes on the return of the very smart Flying Mister Ideal who is taking on the intermediate grade pacers in the Wyndham Cup.
“It’s a big ask, but I wouldn’t have him there if I didn’t think he could win it.
“He’s obviously going to improve with the run but he’s a pretty smart horse – the trip away and the 3200m are going to be good challenges for him.”
Ricky May will head south to drive the Hill team for the meeting which includes handy maidens Luvtahavtime, Philadelphia Freedom and the promising Donegal Art Chokin.
With 11 wins and 27 placings from 90 starters, Hill’s season is tracking nicely with five months of the season remaining.
He’s on track to get somewhere near his season best tally of 26 wins which he set back in 2011.
“I’ve only got 15 horses in work, so we’re getting most of them out and about this weekend.”
NZ Harness News
Debuting filly wins Harness 5000
The North Canterbury horseman produced a masterful training performance to not only produce the quinella in the Listed $40,000 Harness 5000 at Addington, but for good measure he produced a three-year-old filly to win it on debut - a rare feat indeed.
And while he wasn’t surprised that Bardot was able to run up the lane and beat his in-form pacer, Acuto, Hill had to admit that he wasn’t sure if she would be able to do it.
“You have horses like her at home and they give you a good feel and then do nice things at the workouts and trials but going to race day for the first time is a whole new ball game,” Hill said.
“I’ve always liked her, there’s no doubt about that.
“But I think that performance just showed how good she actually is.
“Acuto is a good horse too, and he’s got ringcraft and experience on his side.”
A daughter of Stunin Cullen and former Nevele R Fillies Stakes winner Hemisphere, Bardot is raced by John Higgins, who also raced the dam, along with Bruce Martin, Andrew Patterson and Maria Murrell, who were all on hand to witness the win.
“I’ve got Ricky May to thank for getting me the horse, he was the one who told John to send her to me.
“The only condition was the Ricky was the driver, but he wanted to drive Acuto tonight.”
Tim Williams handled the driving duties on the three-year-old filly and managed to get her into the lane at the top of the straight where she burst through to win impressively from her stablemate.
But now Hill has that problem.
Bardot will cop a decent amount of rating points for the victory and that limits options for the immediate future.
The Southland Oaks is a serious option, but to get there they’d need to have at least two starts down South.
“In an ideal world I’d back right off her now, but we might have to see what’s available because the Oaks would be perfect for her.”
Acuto was a brave second after working hard to get to the lead at the 500 metre mark while the Terry and Glenys Chmiel pair of Dibaba and Liberal Arden filled the next two placings.
17 February 2018
She's simply delightful
Brendon Hill’s the first to admit he wasn’t much of a fan of Beaudiene Delightful when she first arrived at his place.
But he’s starting to warm to the wonderfully bred filly and if she keeps producing performances like the one she laid on the table at Timaru yesterday then the relationship between trainer and horse is going to be just fine.
A daughter of grand producing mare, Beaudiene Babe who has left notable performers Beaudiene Bad Babe, Guns N Roses and also Beaudiene Boaz, Beaudiene Delightful broke maidens at start No.2 and there’s the promise of more to come still.
“Big dreams for her, whether we get to them or not, I’m not sure,” Hill said.
“She’s got all the makings of being a really nice horse but we won’t be pushing her. She can find her own way forward from here and we will see where we end up.”
After originally doing stints with Mark Smolenski and then Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Beaudiene Delightful found her way to Hill’s stable through an association with breeder Dave Kennedy who also bred Pay Me Interest who Hill is training.
“Mark Purdon had suggested she might have been better served at a stable that was smaller with someone who could spend a bit more time working with her.
“When she first came she caused a bit of trouble, but we have slowly ironed most of them out I think.
“She went fantastic at Rangiora first up and then was very good winning.”
With a bright future in front of her and a driver in Ricky May who is keen to stick with the ship, Hill is being careful not to get too far ahead of himself. As he knows time will be his best friend.
“I’m thinking we might take a look at a run in the C1 grade at Ashburton and then, all going well there is a race for her on Show Day I think, so we do have some options.”
Her win yesterday took Hill’s tally to seven winners from 18 starters, a flying start for a small, but select racing team.
“I’ve learnt a few things in the past few seasons about placing horses and I would like to think I’m getting better at finding the right races for the right horses.
“There’s a bit of a running joke that I never used to know where Oamaru was because I tended to focus on the bigger meetings in Canterbury, but I’m learning all the time.
“The way the season has started has been great, the team is going so well.
“Horses like Rummage and Cruzy Dude going great each week and it certainly helps going to the races feeling confident about your chances.”
10 October 2016
Blakemore gets first win
Kimberley Blakemore was quick to deflect a lot of the praise for her first winning harness racing drive at Addington on Friday night to her boss, Brendon Hill.
The young horsewoman, who is originally from the North Island, picked up the first win of her career in the sulky with a well-time drive to get the in-form Rummage home in the junior drivers’ contest.
And while she was showered with praise and admiration in the stabling block at Addington following the win, Blakemore was more keen to heap the compliments on Hill as opposed to giving herself some credit.
“I couldn’t ask for someone better to work for,” Blakemore said.
“Benny has been amazing and have put a lot of faith in me so it’s nice to get that first milestone in his colours.
"He's just a a very kind and patient person who I have a lot of respect for. He's a really good horseman and I'm enjoying learning from him."
Having just her 10th race day drive, Blakemore managed to work clear from a precarious position at the 400 metre mark to find clear air and charge home to run down Allison Sokke.
“It’s all a bit surreal at the moment, it certainly hasn’t sunk in yet.
“And it probably won’t until I have watched the replay about 100 times.”
The daughter of well known North Island horseman, Danny Blakemore, there was no questioning what career path Kimberley was going to take.
Her sister, Kelly and brother, Michael have also driven a winner - keeping the family line perfect.
“I don’t think I beat Kelly in terms of the number of wins before my first, but I have beaten Michael so that gives me a bit of a bragging in the future.”
After working for Phil Burrows for three months when she first moved South, Blakemore managed to land herself a role at Hill’s stable and hasn’t looked back.
“Benny has been incredible part of my career. I wouldn’t be here without him that’s for sure.”
It was a perfect night for Hill who won his second race when Missinmemate cleared a pocket late and charged home for Ricky May.
In a typically patient drive from May, punters were nervous 100 metres from the post. But in a deft display of patience and timing, May was perfect in his judgement, getting the gap late and charging through.
May’s victory on Missinmemate was only usurped by the patience shown on Seel The Deal to win earlier in the night.
Again May left it until the last few strides to get up on the Greg and Nina Hope trained pacer who looked destined to run second to Woodlea Legend and Katie Cox.
“He always felt like he was going to there, it probably looked a little worse than it way,” May said.
“He’s come back really well.”
May’s third victory came courtesy of Ranfurly Rulz who showed he’s finally close to living up to all the hype.
Also from the Hope stable the speedy pacer was far too good for his opposition on Friday, dashing clear at the top of the straight to win impressively.
27 August 2016