Trevor Hemmings Down the years, Fred Rimmell, Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain and, more recently, Trevor Hemmings have all been nicknamed ‘Mr. Grand National’. In August, 2020, Hemmings announced his decision to reduce the number of horses he had in training, citing the impact of Covid-19 on his personal and business interests. Nevertheless, Hemmings, 85, has already seen his iconic emerald green and yellow quartered colours carried to victory in the Grand National three times, making him, jointly, the most successful owner in the history of the world famous steeplechase.

So far, the octagenarian owner has won the Grand National with Hedgehunter in 2005, Ballabriggs in 2011 and Many Clouds in 2015. Of course, Ballabriggs was trained by Donald McCain Jnr., son of the erstwhile ‘Mr. Grand National’, whom Hemmings had known for years. Hemmings said of McCain Snr., ‘I got on well with Ginger, but he and I would have clashed because he said things he didn’t really mean and he could be bloody-minded.’

Despite a dispersal sale of 56 horses in September, 2020, Hemmings has, by no means, given up on his ambition of owning a record-breaking fourth Grand National winner. In a rare interview in November, 2020, he said, confidently, ‘I will get a fourth [Grand National]; there is no doubt about that.’ He went on to identify Deise Aba and Cloth Cap, fifth and eighth, respectively, in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, as the two of his horses with the most potential in that respect.

Thomas Pickernell Thomas ‘Tommy’ Pickernell, or ‘Mr. Thomas’ as he was listed on racecards of the day, rode in the Grand National seventeen times between 1859 and 1877 and won three times, on Anatis in 1860, The Lamb in 1871 and Pathfinder in 1875. He was inducted into the Aintree Hall of Fame in 2012.

On the first occasion, in 1860, Captain Thomas Townley, jockey of the eventual second The Huntsman, reportedly offered Pickernell a bribe of £1,000 – more than the £720 winning prize money – on the run-in to throw the race. Pickernell declined and, despite what ‘The Sporting Chronicle’ described as a ‘tireless effort’ by Townley, coaxed Anatis home to win by half a length.

In 1871, Pickernell was booked for The Lamb after owner, Lord Poulett, foresaw his horse winning the National, under Pickernell, in a dream the previous December. Poulett wrote to Pickernell, swearing him to secrecy. At Aintree, The Lamb jumped well, close to the head of affairs, until taking the lead crossing the Melling Road for the final time and quickening away in the closing stages to win, cleverly, by two lengths.

In one, slightly dubious, account of the 1875 National, Pickernell lined up on Pathfinder so worse for drink they he did not know which way to face. On heavy going, Pathfinder started to struggle on the ploughed section immediately after Becher’s Brook on the second circuit but, unwilling, or unable, to pull up, Pickernell persevered. Remarkably, Pathfinder rallied, making relentless headway from the turn for home, disputing the lead at the second-last fence and wearing down the leader, Dainty, close home to win by half a length.