Trevor Hemmings – ‘The Grand National Man’

Grand National Course

Photo by staceycav is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The recent passing of leading owner Trevor Hemmings brought to an end one of the most enduring Grand National love affairs of the modern era.

The successful businessman had his share of big race triumphs throughout Britain but it was his association with Aintree and the Grand National that personified Hemmings as a racehorse owner.

Hemmings, who jointly holds the record for most Grand National victories as an owner with three, died this month at the age of 86.

Trainer Oliver Sherwood described Hemmings as “Mr Aintree” and “a legend of jump racing”, as many in the racing community joined in paying their own respects.

Hemmings was adamant that the Aintree National was the race to cherish above all others and his famous green and yellow quartered colours were carried to success on three occasions.

Hedgehunter 2005

Hedgehunter had bittersweet Aintree memories already by 2005, having fallen 12 months earlier at the final fence when bang in contention jumping the last fence. The Willie Mullins-trained inmate made amends in some style under Ruby Walsh to give Hemmings his breakthrough in the world’s most iconic steeplechase.

Leader Clan Royal was tanking through the race only to be carried out by a loose horse as AP McCoy’s National heartache went on, leaving Walsh and Hedgehunter to dominate matters as they won by 14-lengths.

Hedgehunter would be second a year later and ran in five renewals of the great race in total.

Ballabriggs 2011

Ballabriggs was much-fancied for the National in 2011 as he arrived in a rich vein of form, winning five of his previous six starts, including the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010. He was trained by Donald McCain, son of the famous Ginger, trainer of Red Rum.

Jason Maguire was the man on board at Aintree on a day that is remembered for balmy conditions. A bad mistake at Valentine’s Brook almost put paid to their hopes of glory, but they came through intact and went on to fend off Oscar Time in the run-in. Ballabriggs returned to Aintree for two more failed attempts at that National before being retired in 2013.

Many Clouds 2015

Perhaps the most famous Hemmings winner of them all, Many Clouds broke the trends in carrying 11st 9lb to victory in the hands of Leighton Aspell for trainer Oliver Sherwood in 2015.

No horse had carried such a burden of weight to glory since the great Red Rum in 1974, and Many Clouds was to become only the second eight-year-old winner in 21 years.

After a laboured run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup a month previous, Sherwood was sceptical, but Hemmings was adamant Many Clouds could thrive on Merseyside and so it was as he secured a one and three-quarter length success from Saint Are.

A former Hennessy Gold Cup winner, Many Clouds’ career ended on a dark note, when he collapsed after getting up bravely to deny favourite Thistlecrack when winning a second Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in 2017.

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