Hemmings has strong hand in bid to win Grand National for third time
The Crabbie’s Grand National holds a special place in the heart of owner Trevor Hemmings, and he looks to hold a strong hand in this year’s contest as he bids to win the race for the third time in 10 years.
The dream of owning a Grand National winner started for Hemmings when he was helping to build Pontins’ Southport holiday village and the company’s founder Fred Pontin achieved Grand National glory with Specify in 1971.
Pontin told Hemmings that he would never win one and left him Specify’s trophy in his will. It was from those days in the 1970s that Hemmings had the ambition to win a Grand National trophy for himself.
The Isle of Man resident first tried to win the race with the Stan Mellor-trained Rubika, who finished 14th in 1992.
He then eventually saw his dream to into a reality when the Willie Mullins’ trained Hedgehunter triumphed in 2005.
That horse went on to finish second in 2006 to Numbersixvalverde, and Hemmings then landed the 4m 4f contest for a second time when the Donald McCain trained Ballabriggs won in 2011.
This year his hopes of bagging the prize rest with Burton Port and Vintage Star.
The former is trained by Nicky Henderson and was a high class chaser at his peak.
He finished runner-up to Weapon’s Amesty in the 2010 RSA Chase and went on to finish runner-up to Long Run in the Grade 2 Denman Chase in 2012, as well as a fine fourth to Synchronised in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The 10-year-old then suffered a series of injury problems which saw his form tail off, but he put in his best run for a long time when showing far more of his old sparkle and finishing runner-up to Summery Justice at Newbury last time out.
Having once been rated as high as 166, he is now running off a handicap mark of 141 and is dangerously well-treated on the pick of his form if he can build on his latest effort.
Coral make him a 33/1 chance for the Grand National.
Vintage Star is trained by Sue Smith who sent out Auroras Encore to win the National 12 months ago.
The seven-year-old had some good form in novice chases last season and looked a staying chaser to keep on the right side when winning a graduation chase at Carlisle on his return to action in November.
He then ran very well to beaten just a neck by Hey Big Spender in Grade 1 listed handicap chase at Newcastle before putting in a career-best performance to finish sixth of 20 to Mountainous in the Welsh National.
Judged on those efforts he looks the type who has more to offer and a live outsider at 33/1 for the Grand National.