Donald McCain has led the tributes to three-times Grand National-winning owner Trevor Hemmings who died on Monday evening at the age of 86.
McCain trained Ballabriggs to provide Hemmings with a second Aintree success in 2011 following on from Hedgehunter (2005) and added to by Many Clouds (2015).
Having also had horses with his father, Red Rum’s trainer Ginger, McCain explained while also losing a huge supporter, his family were mourning the loss of a friend.
“It was a huge shock. He’d been in touch fairly recently and he even used to ring my mum now and again just to keep an eye on her,” said McCain.
“Obviously he was fantastic to me. Dad trained for him in his latter years but for me as a first-season trainer to have horses for Trevor Hemmings was a huge thing and he supported me every year through thick and thin for every year that I’ve been training.
“He’s been a wonderful man for me and a lot of other trainers. He was very fair and while it’s corny, he was just a gentleman. He was a wonderful supporter to me, you can’t underestimate the reason why he was so successful and that is because he allowed you to train horses the way they should be trained.
"He was not just a great man but he was a great friend to the family as well.
“Cloudy Lane was the first good horse I had for him and Mr Hemmings bred him as well, we had some great fun with him even before Ballabriggs came along, he won at the (Cheltenham) Festival and was favourite for the National the following year (finished sixth).
“It was no fluke that he won three Grand Nationals, he allowed you to do the job, he never rushed you.
“He’s a great loss to National Hunt racing but in particular the northern National Hunt racing scene, that can’t be underestimated as he was a great supporter of many trainers in the north.”