Trevor Hemmings 1935-2021: Tributes paid to leading owner, gentleman and friend of equestrian sport

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  • Trevor Hemmings, three-time Grand National-winning owner and one of racing’s most ardent supporters, has died aged 86.

    Tributes from across the sporting world have poured in for the philanthropist and businessman, whose yellow, green and white colours will be forever synonymous with jump racing.

    Preston North End, the football club owned by Mr Hemmings, announced the news of his passing on Monday night (11 October), and a minute’s silence was held before the club’s match against Rochdale today.

    Mr Hemmings was brought up in Woolwich Arsenal, where his father worked at the munitions factory, and he was sent to Lancashire as a five-year-old during World War II.

    He left school at 15 to become a bricklayer’s apprentice, going on to set up his own housebuilding company with £12 capital, before becoming involved in Pontins holiday business. It was during his time with Pontins that his passion for racing was sparked.

    “All of us at The Jockey Club are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Trevor Hemmings,” said Dickon White, the Jockey Club’s regional director for the north west.

    “His passion for jump racing was unrivalled and his support for the Randox Grand National was second to none. It was hugely satisfying for everyone to see his support rewarded with a joint-record third Grand National winner six years ago and it is no exaggeration to say that it is due to Trevor’s passion that the great race’s profile remains as high as ever.”

    Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015) were the three horses to carry his colours to the winners enclosure in the Aintree showpiece. His first Grand National runner was Rubika in 1992, who finished 14th, and he had at least one runner in every edition of the race from 2000 to 2021.

    Mr Hemmings also enjoyed success as an owner at the Cheltenham Festival, with a total of 12 winners. These were headed by dual Ryanair Chase winner Albertas Run, while Hedgehunter recorded a memorable second place in the 2006 Gold Cup a year after his Grand National triumph.

    His love of horses reached beyond the racing world, including owning Zara Tindall’s London 2012 Olympic silver medal-winning ride, High Kingdom (“Trev”). Zara’s current top ride, Class Affair, who is entered at Maryland CCI5* this week, is also owned by Mr Hemmings’ Gleadhill House Stud.

    Trevor Hemmings and Zara Tindall

    Zara Tindall and Trevor Hemmings, pictured after her dressage test at the London 2012 Olympics.

    Many of his horses retired to live with him at his Isle of Man base, Ballaseyr Stud, also home to Shires and Suffolks among others, and he was a life member of the Shire Horse Society.

    Mr Hemmings’ philanthropic work included the role of chairman of the TJH Foundation, a charity that makes grants to good causes. In 2011 he was appointed a Commander of the Victorian Order (CVO) for his work as vice-president of the Princess Royal Trust Carers.

    Twenty-time champion jockey AP McCoy said he was “very proud” to have worn Mr Hemmings’ colours on “many wonderful days”.

    “He was a great friend to many, but a greater friend to our sport and that of his beloved [Preston North End],” he said.

    Oliver Sherwood, trainer of Many Clouds, added Mr Hemmings was a “true legend of a man” and as important as that, he was a “true gentleman”.

    Donald McCain, who trained Ballabriggs, remembered him as a great supporter to both him personally, National Hunt racing and the sport in the north of England.

    “A gentleman and a huge support to myself and my family for many years, there can be no bigger loss to National Hunt racing,” he said.

    Jonjo O’Neill added he was “desperately sad” to hear the news.

    “He was a passionate, generous and loyal friend who I was lucky to share so many magical days with on and off the racecourse,” he said.

    “The world has lost a truly incredible man and horse racing, one of its greatest supporters.”

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