Hillcrest benefitting from influence of late Trevor Hemmings

Henry Daly's Hillcrest put the talented I Am Maximus to the sword at Cheltenham and his trainer has paid tribute to the influence of leading owner Trevor Hemmings who sadly passed last year.

Henry Daly had laid bare the influence of the late Trevor Hemmings after the promising Hillcrest's impressive success at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.

The seven-year-old was an eyecatching winner of the Listed Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, strolling around Prestbury Park to beat Nicky Henderson's I Am Maximus by two lengths.

The victory was a fourth consecutive win for the gelding, who was narrowly denied success on his racecourse debut when beaten by just a nose in a Doncaster bumper but has since won a Wetherby bumper and three times over hurdles.

"He's done nothing but please us, if they all ran five times and won four, you'd be quite pleased," said Daly.

"He's going along nicely. We hope he's a good horse and we're beginning to find out, aren't we?"

Daly was pleased to see the gelding take well to the Cheltenham hill and felt he was not particularly hard pushed in claiming his first success at Listed level.

"It was interesting (to see him take to Cheltenham), more so than a relief. It's always interesting find out if a horse can go on an undulating track and he obviously does.

"I don't think he had a particularly hard race, getting there to win, he found it relatively easy."

Hillcrest is owned by Exors of the late Hemmings and due to his towering build he has required more time to develop than a comparatively compact type of horse.

Hemmings was willing to allow him to mature physically and it is that patience that Daly believes will prove essential to the gelding developing into the archetypal chaser the businessman became associated with throughout his long connection with National Hunt racing.

"He's all of those things in spades and it's very lucky that someone like Trevor owned him because he has given him the time necessary to get to where we've got so far," the trainer said.

"It's undoubtedly been crucial to him, it obviously helps now that's he's mature enough to do what he's doing. He's not complicated, he just needed that time."

Hemmings' racing interests are still overseen by his racing manager Mick Meagher, someone Daly will have a conversation with before Hillcrest's next steps are planned.

"We'll see how we go from here, I'll speak to Mick Meagher and we'll see what we do next," he said.

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