04/19/2011 9:33PM

The charming Channing Hill



He’s movie-star handsome, with dimples, a Kirk Douglas chin, freckles, blue eyes, long eyelashes and a charming smile. He's the all-American young man from Nebraska who sports some mighty impressive tattoos and has a hint of mischief in his eyes. He's sensitive (check out his list of favorite books and songs) and polite, he's smart and funny - and an MVP athlete.  And although he rode his racing dreams all the way to the Empire State, he has “Nebraska Kid” stitched on his helmet covers.

Channing Hill can also flat-out ride, his most recent stakes victory coming aboard Nicole H in last Saturday's G2 Distaff at Aqueduct.  What's not to root for?!

He’s out early in the mornings, a smile on his face, working horses – not just stakes horses, but just horses, horses, horses...'round and 'round and 'round. And if a NYRA track is closed, odds are good he’s off to some other track to ride that day.

And check out his tongue-in-cheek info on his Facebook page. Funny…he doesn’t look like he was born in 1961 (methinks he's joshing). He lists his employment as ‘Hot Walker.’  He has 4,121 close and personal Facebook 'friends.' He lists Saratoga Springs as his current home (at least the snow is almost gone).  And his relationship status is ‘Married,’ although, hmmm, I wonder…. 

Hermes was smart enough to make use of Channing’s charms, featuring him in an online video ad for men's fashion. And Conan O’ Brien’s ‘Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’ couldn’t pass up the Nebraska kid, either, when reporting live from the 2008 Belmont Stakes.

They have good taste.  

And here's more about Channing, in his own words:

Favorite booksThirteen Moons (by Charles Frazier), but I had a real attachment to Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived (by Ralph Helfer), because it was just an amazing story.

Favorite songsFire and Rain (Sammy Krenshaw version) and Mendochino County Line (Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack).

Favorite movie: The Cowboys (1972, starring John Wayne, Slim Pickens, Bruce Dern, etc.). I must have seen it 500 times, and still, if it’s on, I’m hooked like I’ve never seen it. 

Do you ever get back to Nebraska: I try to get back every couple of months to visit my Dad and my godparents Bill and Cindy Conyers.

Favorite vacation spot: Denver, because it’s unbelievably beautiful any time of the year. The city is great and the people are nice and friendly. And you can’t beat the snowboarding there – it’s just amazing.

Passion other than horse racing: If you can believe it, I love to read. I usually try to read a couple of books a month.

Biggest goal: If you ask 10 jockeys, ‘what’s your biggest goal in racing,’ I’ll bet you all 10 will answer the same way. And just like them, winning the Kentucky Derby would have to be my biggest goal. But I’ve always felt winning the meet at Saratoga would be more self-gratifying because you have to beat the best group of jockeys in the world, day in and day out. But I’d like to be greedy and do both, ha ha.

Above:  Channing Hill winning the G1 Forego on First Defence in 2008 and the G3 Toboggan on Wall Street Wonder in 2010.  Below, Wall Street Wonder

Above:  Channing Hill (r) with his father Alan Hill (l) and David Cassidy, after Sweet Vendetta won the 2008 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.  Alan, a former jockey, took the same race in 1975 aboard My Juliet.

Above:  On First Defence at Saratoga in 2008, in the Belmont Park paddock in 2008, with trainer George Weaver at Saratoga in 2010, waiting to weigh out at Aqueduct in 2010

Above:  Channing Hill, the night he was MVP with four, count 'em, four, home runs - at the 2010 jockeys' benefit softball game for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (Saratoga)

Below:  At the jockeys' softball game with Eibar Coa, 2010

Above:  Channing in August 2006, a year after he arrived in NY.  It was so hot on this day that they canceled racing - but look at that smile.  Below:  Channing, working a horse at Saratoga in 2010, still wears helmets with "Nebraska Kid" stitched on the covers.

Above:  At Aqueduct on a cold January day, 2010.  Below:  On Long Beach in October 2010 - a shoot for the 2012 jockey 'beefcake' calendar on a chilly day.  Such a good sport (even if he wimped out on submerging himself for a wet T-shirt look)!  What young woman wouldn't like to run into Channing on the boardwalk?

Above:  Who'd guess...the man can send his horse through a wall of horses at 35 mph to win a race, and yet he's a bit leery of seagulls.  :)

Above:  The chosen jockey 'beefcake' calendar photo.   The lyrics down Channing's right side are Johnny Cash's "Oh, Bury Me Not."  Among the lyrics: Make me as big and honest as the plains/And honest as the horse between my knees

Above:  Channing heads into a Saratoga sunrise

Hermes video featuring Channing Hill: tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/now-viewing-horsing-around-with-hermes/

2008 NYRA video featuring Channing Hill: www.youtube.com/watch

2010 NYRA video featuring Channing Hill: www.youtube.com/watch

To view the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog video (2008 Belmont Stakes) that features Channing, just go to www.noob.us/ and put "triumph" and "belmont" in the search engine.  It might offend some people, so you'll have to work to see it - but I find it really funny (Javier Castellano is also adorable in it).  And I like Channing's response about Alydar being chicken.