Trevor Hemmings, who was born on June 11, 1935, boasts a classic rags to riches story. Brought up in Woolwich Arsenal, south east London, where his father worked at the Royal Ordnance factory, Trevor was sent to Lancashire as a five-year-old during World War II and began life as a bricklayer’s apprentice after leaving school aged 15, before becoming involved in the Pontins holiday business.
He eventually became the owner and sold it to Scottish & Newcastle in exchange for a significant share holding in S & N (in 1989). He bought Pontins back in 2000 but retained a stake in S & N, which netted him £218 million when the company was sold in January, 2008. His main holding company is the Northern Trust Group, whose net assets were £132 million in 2010.
He is also a major shareholder in Arena Leisure Plc, which owns Folkestone, Lingfield, Southwell, Wolverhampton and Windsor racecourses and manages Doncaster and Worcester. Arena also has a major part of specialist broadcaster At The Races which owns some of British racing’s media rights.
Hemmings has just agreed to sell his Arena Leisure shareholding to the Reuben Brothers. This follows on from him selling Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens to the North West resort’s town council for £40 million in March, 2010.
He also owns a share of Preston North End FC and is chairman of the TJH Foundation, a charity which makes grants to organisations such as Macmillan Cancer Relief, St John Ambulance, Crimestoppers Trust and the Royal National Lifeboat Association, the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and Racing Welfare.
Hemmings fulfilled one of his greatest ambitions when Hedgehunter carried his colours to victory in the 2005 John Smith’s Grand National. After years of trying, Hemmings had finally emulated his mentor Fred Pontin, owner of the 1971 National hero Specify, with his 13th Grand National runner.
Ballabriggs added a memorable second John Smith’s Grand National success in 2011. His first winner came on the Flat in 1985 but Hemmings now brings on young jumping stock at Gleadhill House Stud, near Chorley, Lancashire, managed by former trainer Mick Meagher, and at his Monymusk Stud in Co Cork.
The Isle of Man resident first tried to win the John Smith’s Grand National with the Stan Mellor-trained Rubika, who finished 14th in 1992. Hemmings, who was made an honorary Jockey Club member in December, 2006, is based on the Isle of Man and is said to have paid £12 million for the Ballavodan estate on the island.
He enjoyed a double at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival with Albertas Run (Ryanair Chase) and Ballabriggs (Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase). Albertas Run added a second Ryanair Chase victory in 2011 to go with his other Festival triumph in the 2008 RSA Chase and a further Grade One win in the 2010 John Smith’s Melling Chase at Aintree.
As well as those already mentioned, his best horses have been Trabolgan, Burton Port, Young Kenny, Blue Shark, Cloudy Lane, Afsoun, Turpin Green, Arctic Jack The Last Fling and Simply Supreme. His best season numerically came in 2007/08 when his horses triumphed in 51 races in Britain and Ireland.
JohnSmith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Rubika (14th); 2000 The Last Fling (7th);Esprit De Cotte (Fell 22nd); 2001 The Last Fling (UR 5th), Esprit DeCotte (UR 11th); 2002 Goguenard (Fell 1st), Beau (UR 14th); 2003 Southern Star(14th), Chives (PU bef 12th); 2004 Arctic Jack (Fell 1st), Southern Star (PUbef 9th), Hedgehunter (Fell 30th); 2005 HEDGEHUNTER (WON), Europa (20th); 2006Hedgehunter (2nd), Juveigneur (Fell 1st), 2007 Hedgehunter (9th), Billyvoddan(PU bef 19th); 2008 Cloudy Lane (6th), Hedgehunter (13th), IdleTalk (14th); 2009 Idle Talk (12th), Battlecry (16th), Cloudy Lane (UR 15th);2010 Cloudy Lane (8th); 2011 BALLABRIGGS (WON), King Fontaine (11th)