The three-time Grand National winning owner, Trevor Hemmings, has passed away at the age of 86.
He was a noted supporter of horse racing and invested some of his fortune into the sport, as well as acquiring a share in his beloved Preston North End.
His yellow-and-green colours are synonymous with the Grand National, and from dozens of entries he would taste glory at Aintree on three separate occasions – Hedgehunter in 2005, Ballabriggs in 2011 and Many Clouds in 2015. In the modern era, only two owners have also won the National three times, and he’s the only owner in the past century to have won the race with three different horses.
Hemmings also enjoyed plenty of success at the Cheltenham Festival, with victories in the RSA and Ryanair Chases and a close second with Hedgehunter in the Gold Cup.
Tributes from those in the sport have come pouring in, with A.P. McCoy – who rode for the billionaire regularly – writing on Twitter:
Desperately sad news that Trevor Hemmings has died. I’m very proud to have worn his iconic colours on many wonderful days. He was a great friend to many but a greater friend to our sport and that of his beloved @pnefc thoughts with all his family & friends pic.twitter.com/w30BoVbGaI
— AP McCoy (@AP_McCoy) October 12, 2021
Even into his final season, Hemmings produced 24 winners including a victory at the Cheltenham Festival in March courtesy of Vintage Clouds.
But, of course, it’s his three wins at the Grand National for which Hemmings will best be remembered by those in the sport, and particularly those that backed them.
Hedgehunter was the first, with the combination of Willie Mullins on training duty and Ruby Walsh in the saddle always likely to lead to success. And that came in 2005, when he chased down the fancied Clan Royal to win by eight lengths. As the 7/1 favourite, plenty of glasses of the good stuff were raised to Hemmings that evening….just not by the bookies.
In truth, the horse might have won a year earlier in 2004 too, leading the way at the business end of the race before falling at the final hurdle.
Hemmings would have to wait six years for his next slice of Grand National glory. Ballabriggs was a big old horse who took to chasing as well as expected, winning five on the spin in 2010 including the Kim Muir Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
The horse produced a jumping masterclass at Aintree, sitting at the head of the field for much of the renewal before staying the course in outstanding fashion to defeat defending champion Don’t Push It, who once again had McCoy on board.
And then, in 2015, perhaps the best of the bunch came along. Many Clouds, having won the Hennessy Gold Cup and Cotswold Chase, was treated harshly by the handicapper, and with Leighton Aspell on board was forced to carry 11st 9lb at the National.
But no matter. Many Clouds won by just over a length, becoming the heaviest National winner since Red Rum and completing Hemmings’ Aintree hat-trick.