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It's all been said before, but it needs to be said again - how much of a equine wonder is Lyell Creek? A champion, a freak, a marvel, great, phenomenal, amazing. They've all been trotted out to desperately describe the feats no other horse has done. Like this report, however, they don't adequately cover his stature as a world class icon.

The horse is 11 - though he could be going on seven. He has been to places most of us only see on the map. He has footed it with the best, and his reputation is legendary. After winning millions, he returned home, and if he wanted it, honourable retirement.

'Lyell' obviously had other ideas. He settled happily into stable life again at Premier Stables, and with the exception of one or two minor hic-cups, he has dominated the ranks of open class trotters in New Zealand. He ran a corker first-up for the season, when his ill-fated stablemate Sonofthedon won, then showed his intolerance of being bustled early with a mulish display on the grass at Motukarara. With others sharing the load in front on Cup Day, Lyell Creek was in his element and showed it with a stylish win over Sumthingaboutmaori.

Would he do the same 10 days later in the $100,000 Southern Trust Dominion Handicap, off 10 metres?

'Lyell' made his intensions known quickly, with such a speedy beginning that had him sixth or seventh, on the outer, after 300 metres. From there, driver Anthony Butt had the race at his mercy. He had Castleton's Mission two places behind him, he'd probably seen Allegro Agitato in a gallop, and he had the classy Australian Sumthingaboutmaori inside him, four deep. He only had to press the button at some time near the corner to turn 'Lyell' loose and set the crowd alight. It all came together swimmingly well, and while Castleton's Mission looked more like his old self with a solid charge from the back, Lyell Creek was on his way to another Dominion win.

"He is just so superior to the others," said Butt, who said his failure back at Motukarara was due to being 'off colour'. "He had a little break, and he's been so healthy since then," he said.

To match his own talent as a horseman, Butt has never been short of a great horse to keep him at the top of the top level. "Blossom Lady - she was the first, Happy Asset and Take A Moment, and now more of 'Lyell'. I mean, to win 16 Group 1 races like he has is unreal. Take A Moment is a great horse, but 'Lyell' is amazing. He's one of those horses you'll never see again."

For the record, it was Butt's sixth successive win in the Dominion Handicap, and it was brother Tim's sixth successive training win. Some record!

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in NZHR Weekly

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