Action replay for able Ellmer
Benny Hill has long been regarded as a great horseman but the North Canterbury trainer has taken his skillset to a new level over the past two and a-half months with the talented Ellmer Hanover.
A 15-start maiden at the beginning of October, the dashing pacer is now the winner of five races from seven starts since being purchased by Cavalla Bloodstock - the most recent coming in yesterday's Nat Hall Memorial at Rangiora.
So what Hill see in a maiden who had run in the money only twice in his career before he bought it?
"I was sitting around at Sam Morris' house one day and the trial replays came on and I saw him flash home late right down the outside," Hill said.
"We are always on the lookout for horses to buy so we looked it up and then decided not to pursue it.
"But then he ran third at Oamaru one day and I said to Sam we better find out a bit more about this horse.
"So I trialled him and he really impressed me.
"I didn't knock him round or anything.
"When I drove him but just the way he got over the ground and how he responded when I asked him for an effort was what really sold me."
After some tough negotiating a sale price of $30,000 was agreed with former owner Kevin James.
Ellmer Hanover won first-up at Methven before repeating the dose at Addington a week later.
He then placed second in his next two starts behind Chechnya and Jivin Cullen before claiming win three at Orari.
But it was before then when Hill had made up his mind to really chuck the four-year-old in the deep end and nominate him for the Methven Green Mile - a race which featured cup class pacers.
"Methven was always a race we wanted to attack, but I really needed Matty (Matty Williamson) to get off him at Orari and say he did it easy.
"If he had struggled to win there then Methven was off the radar, but Matty said he did it easy so on we went."
In the hands of Ricky May, Ellmer Hanover claimed the grass track feature and then returned yesterday to Rangiora and dished out more of the same.
"Gee, he was so relaxed out there.
"I couldn't get him to go," May said.
"He might even be better than what I thought he was and I think a bit of him."
It's been a quick return for Dave McHugh and Tank Ellis too who bought into the son of Armbro Operative before Methven.
Yesterday's share of the stake could also go some way to helping with some financial pain for the Yaldhurst proprietor over the next week.
McHugh sponsors the popular West Coast bonus of which $10,000 will be given to the connections of a horse who can win on all three days of racing.
The circuit kicks off at Westport on Boxing Day, then again at the same track on the 28th before finishing up at Reefton on the 30th.