HE handles the pressure remarkably well, but trainer David Hill will be relieved when Sha Tin racecourse empties tonight and life gets back to normal in Hongkong racing. Every trainer wants to have a champion in his stable but most would also prefer to go about their business without the hype, hope and nerve-shredding tension that accompanies every outing of their star galloper. The former Madras trainer goes into today's International Races meeting just one winner behind champion trainer John Moore, while stable rider Basil Marcus pepped up his spirits afresh with a winning treble at Happy Valley in midweek. And River Verdon, meanwhile, burned up the track in a superb final workout that suggested he is ready to play the vital part selected for him in the $4.5 million Cup. Just how much tension and pressure is involved when handling a horse like River Verdon, who carries the hopes of millions of Hongkong fans? Said Hill: ''A lot. There is no sense denying that. It is not just pressure, there is the obvious responsibility. ''River Verdon is the crowd hero, they love him and they want him to win. They will have bet millions on him. ''And in the big race itself there is the 'winning for Hongkong' aspect of it. We want to keep the trophy here and it would be tremendous for everyone on the course and watching it, if we could,'' said Hill. It would be easy to say that River Verdon has been the making of the English-born mentor, who has shrugged off the disappointments of his first year in Hongkong to become one of the very few trainers here with a realistic hope of winning the championship. What sets him aside from other challengers is the fact that winning the crown is not of overriding importance to him. If it was, you would expect to see his horses start in a lot more races than they do. ''I just will not rush horses nor will I put them into races which I do not believe are really suitable for them. ''Sure, you can get a win or two by running a horse in form, or who is fit, over a distance that may not be his ideal trip. ''But what for? One win? Yes, I would like to win the title be it this year next year or whatever. But not at the expense of my horses. ''If I win it, it will be because I have enough horses that stay sound, are fit and are successful in the races that they have been set for,'' said Hill. They say that when God made time, he made plenty of it, and the man who learned his trade in the sweltering eastern India city of Madras certainly doesn't rush things. It is now almost part of local racing folklore, that the powers that be were shaking their heads dubiously in Hill's first season. He had been given the chance to train here because it was felt that he had experience in handling a large stable in tropical conditions. And trendsetter Lawrie Fownes had shown that trainers from the sub-continent certainly knew their business. But weeks turned into months and Hill had still not saddled up a winner. He was vilified in the Chinese press - something he has not forgotten - and he was not in favour with Jockey Club officialdom. In fact, he just did not have the horses with which to win. ''I probably had about two horses but one of them kept breaking down just as I got him right. I don't remember it now as being a really bad time although I suppose it was. ''I just knew in myself that if you don't have the horses there is nothing you can do. ''But I did find out just how much support you can really rely on when things are not going well,'' he said. He has come a long way from those trying early days but Hill is still very much the same person he was then - despite the great success he has had. Those knowledgeable in the ways of the racing game, admire him. His greatest strength is his complete dedication to his stable and his constant care for every horse in it. With a stable of 50 horses, he knows every one backwards - strengths, weaknesses and all their little traits. He knows them as well as he knows his family - and that is one underlying reason for his success. His patience with young horses is legendary here. He will produce a griffin, win with it - and put it away for a season. That can cause problems with Hongkong owners who buy horses because they want to see them race. But it is part of the Hill modus operandi and it is also noticeable that very few horses actually leave his stable. Patience can pay dividends and owners who are prepared to wait with Hill reap rewards - fiscal and otherwise. They are still likely to have their colours carried with success by a horse in later seasons while others over-raced early have departed for Beas River - or a worse fate. His handling of River Verdon has been masterly. Recognising that he had a budding champion, he was careful to avoid the handicapping pitfalls of Hongkong racing. With 17 lifetime starts at six, River Verdon is one of the lightest raced champions in the world. But that is why, at what is a reasonably advanced age for a top thoroughbred, he is now in better condition than ever before. Success in today's International Cup will be greeted with near ecstasy by the expected 75,000 on course at Sha Tin. . . and a measure of relief by Hill. ''As in most other things in life, you can only do your best. We have done that with River Verdon and he has done his best every time he has started. ''You just hope that it will all be good enough on the day.'' Victory in the International Cup will not spark off any huge celebration for the teetotal, non-smoking Hill whose life revolves around his horses and his family. ''I'll be glad when it's all over and we can look ahead to what comes next,'' he said. Next will be the Champions and Chater Cup for River Verdon and, maybe, a trainers' championship for Hill.