Hill’s Dream Ascent To Great Chase
IT'S fair to say Richard Hill’s training career was a ‘slow burn’ before Group 3 Great Chase finalist Hamillson burst onto the scene earlier this year.
19 October 2021
IT’S fair to say Richard Hill’s training career was a ‘slow burn’ before Wednesday afternoon’s Group 3 TAB Great Chase finalist Hamillson ‘exploded’ onto the scene – or more to the point, Hill’s Frankston backyard.
Hill, 74, had only had two winners in a dozen years prior to Hamillson, a son of Out Of Range, a two-time G1-winning litter brother to 2018 Topgun hero Poke The Bear, making his debut at Sandown Park in April.
“It took me 12 years to win two races and then less than a week to get the next two,” Hill laughed.
“My first two winners were Dynamic Deano at Warragul and My Bro Lucky at Cranbourne.”
Hamillson doubled Hill’s tally in a matter of four days, winning heat and final of a maiden series, but soon after he was forced to the sidelines, undergoing surgery to remove bone fragments from a hock.
The enforced layoff, while frustrating at the time, could well turn into a $47,000 blessing in disguise for Hill and wife Noelene in the Great Chase decider (race 8 at 2.42pm on Wednesday), as without the interruption there’s little doubt the promising sprinter would have exceeded the community series’ five-win eligibility limit.
“The (5) wins would have been all over and done with, so maybe the injury happened for a reason,” said Hill.
“He’s come back very well and really gives us a thrill. It gives me a thrill just putting him in the box!”
ICYMI: Lightly-raced HAMILLSON (5) completed a hat-trick when running down favourite REVOLUTION (8) to win a G3 #GreatChase semi yesterday.
👥 Richard Hill
📊 Won 6 from 11: 55%
— WatchDog Racing (@WatchDogRacing) October 14, 2021
Hamillson has won four from six since resuming with a 29.62sec win at Sandown on September 6, overcoming Box 5 in last Wednesday’s toughest Great Chase semi-final to have the Hills on the verge of a dream Group victory.
Hamillson started at $9, with Revolution, which had won 6 from 7, the $2.20 favourite ahead of the then unbeaten Old News (4 from 4) at $3.30.
After a stirring duel with Revolution, Hamillson finished best, scoring by one length in 30.13sec, his sixth win from 11 starts, and he’ll be chasing a fourth straight success from Box 2 in Wednesday’s final.
“We thought he’d run a place last week but he surprised us,” said Hill.
“Boxes don’t seem to worry him. He had Box 5 last week and he’s won from 7, 8 and 4.
“He likes to get his nose in front and stay there and he has a real kick at the end of his races, in the last 15 to 20 metres.
“Look at the other trainers in the race; you’ve got Dailly, Langton, Thompson – bloody hell! The dog mightn’t know who the other trainers are but I do!
“It’s an exciting week and he’s in with a chance but we don’t care if he runs first or last, all that matters to us is that he comes home safely.”
Hamillson, which is owned by Hill and brother-in-law Ron Farrell, is very much a family commodity, with his name derived from a somewhat complicated mix of grandchildren Harper and Hamish, their surname Hill, sons Matthew, Leigh and Craig and another granddaughter Olivia.
Hamillson shares his fiefdom (aka back yard) with litter brother Our Tie Breaker, which is yet to race but is “quicker than the other bloke”, according to Richard, having trialled 29.54sesc at his first run at Sandown before injuring a hock.
“We’re only hobby trainers and we’re on a postage stamp,” explained Noelene.
“Hamillson and his brother live in the backyard and they’re treated as pets really.
“Hamillson’s got a huge fan club, with our family and friends all following him.
“We’re all in our 60s and 70s and it’s been a nice distraction to have during COVID, although we haven’t been able to share it with everyone on the racetrack yet.
“My brother, Ron (Farrell) has all his buddies ringing him up as soon as a race is over, going through all the post-race analysis! While I had to show our 92-year-old neighbour how she could watch him on Foxtel!”
Hamillson and Our Tie Breaker were purchased as pups from breeder Amanda Frey, while Richard also acknowledged rearers Brian and Debbie Selleck, Geoff Howell and breaker Kerrie Smythe for their contribution to an unexpected rise to stardom.