John Smith’s Grand National: Factfile: Ballabriggs:Trevor Hemmings:Don McCain:Jason Maguire


b g Presenting – Papoose (IRE) (Little Bighorn)

10-11-00 Form: 50220/6S22F212/0/3111-112                     Owner: Trevor Hemmings

Trainer: Donald McCain                                       Breeder: Mrs S Jackson                       Jockey: Jason Maguire


John Brady paid £IR12,000 for Ballbriggs as a foal at Goffs in December, 2001, and sold the youngster on to Highflyer Bloodstock for 32,000 euros at Tattersalls Ireland the following November. Ballabriggs made a low-key racecourse debut for trainer Donald McCain and owner Trevor Hemmings when fifth in a Uttoxeter bumper in May, 2006 and was 10th of 14 on his hurdles bow at the same course that December.

The gelding contested four more hurdle races before switching to fences, finishing runner-up twice, but failing to win. He slipped up on the bend on his first chase start at Bangor in December, 2007, and subsequently posted three seconds and a first fence fall before breaking his duck in a soft ground extended three-mile beginners’ chase at Bangor in March, 2008. He followed that with another runner-up finish at Ayr in April, behind subsequent Scottish Grand National hero Merigo.

After a below-par effort at Haydock in November, 2008, Ballabriggs was off the course until returning with a third-place finish in a handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter in December, 2009. He then proceeded to string together three straight wins over fences, the third of those being the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival. That was his final start of the campaign and, with the John Smith’s Grand National firmly on the agenda, he made a belated return to action this season with two novice hurdle triumphs at Wincanton and Ayr in January.

His final start before Aintree came in the extended two and three quarter-mile Premier Chase at Kelso on March 5. The 10-year-old finished a length and three quarters second to Skippers Brig, to whom he was conceding 4lb. Race Record: Starts: 21; Wins: 6; 2nd; 7; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £72,980

Trevor Hemmings

Trevor Hemmings, who was born on June 11, 1935, boasts a classic rags to riches story. Born 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 rapidly worked his way up the Pontins holiday business to the extent that he was able to sell it on to Scottish & Newcastle in exchange for a significant share holding in S & N (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 fell to £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 is also a major shareholder in broadcaster At The Races that owns some of British racing’s media rights. Hemmings sold 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.

In 2010, the Sunday Times estimated Hemmings’ wealth at £500 million, a recession-busting rise of £200 million on the 2009 figure. 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.

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. He 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, resides 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 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 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.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 1992 Rubika (14th); 2000 The Last Fling (7th); Esprit De Cotte (Fell 22nd); 2001 The Last Fling (UR 5th), Esprit De Cotte (UR 11th); 2002 Goguenard (Fell 1st), Beau (UR 14th); 2003 Southern Star (14th), Chives (PU bef 12th); 2004 Arctic Jack (Fell 1st), Southern Star (PU bef 9th), Hedgehunter (Fell 30th); 2005 HEDGEHUNTER (WON), Europa (20th); 2006 Hedgehunter (2nd), Juveigneur (Fell 1st), 2007 Hedgehunter (9th), Billyvoddan (PU bef 19th); 2008 Cloudy Lane (6th), Hedgehunter (13th), Idle Talk (14th); 2009 Idle Talk (12th), Battlecry (16th), Cloudy Lane (UR 15th); 2010 Cloudy Lane (8th).

Donald McCain Jnr

Born on March 13, 1970, Donald McCain Jnr is the son of Ginger McCain, trainer of the legendary Red Rum, the only horse to win the John Smith’s Grand National three times (1973, 1974 and 1977) and also Amberleigh House, the 2004 victor. Donald learnt to ride on his sister Joanne’s pony Gambol and rode in his first race on the Flat aged 15 (his father told a few white lies so he could ride) at Haydock Park.

He subsequently became a jump jockey, firstly as an amateur and then a professional, riding around 40 winners under Rules. He rode several times over the Grand National fences, finishing fifth aboard Harley in the 1992 Fox Hunters’ Chase and 17th on Sure Metal in the 1996 Grand National. He also spent time working in the stables of Luca Cumani, Sir Michael Stoute and Oliver Sherwood.

Donald subsequently became assistant trainer to his father at Bankhouse Stables at Cholmondeley in Cheshire and played a significant role in Amberleigh House’s Grand National victory in 2004. He was expected to take over the licence from his father at the start of the 2006/7 jump season, but had to wait until June, 2006, before he was able to train in his own name as he needed to complete the appropriate British Horseracing Authority courses.

Donald’s first winner as a licensed trainer came with Bearaway in a handicap chase at Newton Abbot on June 8, 2006. He secured his first Cheltenham Festival triumph with Cloudy Lane in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase in 2007 and enjoyed 40 winners in his first campaign. In the 2007/08 campaign he had 58 successes and a second Cheltenham Festival success with Whiteoak in the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle while the 2008/09 haul of 62 winners included Cloudy Lane’s victory in the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase.

Last season brought further success with a double at the Cheltenham Festival thanks to Peddlers Cross in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and Ballabriggs in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase, and a career best 88 winners. He already has 89 winners on the board this term (as of March 22).

Peddlers Cross landed the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle and was a gallant runner-up in the Champion Hurdle, while Overturn took the Northumberland Plate on the Flat in June and added the Galway Hurdle a month later. McCain is also the trainer of Smithy The Horse, owned by the John Smith’s Racing Partnership which offers John Smith’s drinkers the chance to own a share in a racehorse. 

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2007 Idle Talk (UR 19th); 2008 Cloudy Lane (6th), Idle Talk (14th); 2009 Idle Talk (12th), Cloudy Lane (UR 15th); 2010 Cloudy Lane (8th);

Jason Maguire

Jason Maguire, who was born on April 13, 1980, is the nephew of former top-jockey-turned-trainer Adrian Maguire. He started out in Irish pony races and partnered his first British winner, the Tony Martin-trained Search For Peace, at Cheltenham on November 12, 1999.

He began riding for Gloucestershire trainer Tom George shortly after coming to Britain and enjoyed a seven-year partnership that yielded a Cheltenham Festival victory in 2002 when Galileo took the Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle. Maguire’s working relationship with George, which was never contractually formalised, ended in January, 2007, and he is now attached to Donald McCain’s Cheshire stable.

Maguire has had eight John Smith’s Grand National rides, with his best placing coming when finishing sixth on joint-favourite Cloudy Lane in 2008. He took the valuable Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton in 2003 on Non So and captured the 2007 John Smith’s Midlands Grand National on Baron Windrush.

He had a second Cheltenham Festival success in 2008 on Whiteoak in the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle and added a third last season with Peddlers Cross in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, who he went on to partner to victory in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and into second place in the 2011 Champion Hurdle. Maguire also rode Barizan to win the Grade One Four-Year-Old Hurdle at Punchestown in April, 2010. He enjoyed his best season in 2009/10 with 108 winners and already has 84 this season (up to March 22).

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2001 No Retreat (PU bef 17th); 2002 Birkdale (10th); 2003 Tremallt (9th); 2005 Europa (20th); 2006 Lord Of Illusion (PU bef 17th); 2007 Idle Talk (UR 19th); 2008 Cloudy Lane (6th); 2009 Idle Talk (12th), Cloudy Lane (UR 15th); 2010 Cloudy Lane (8th).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.