Battlecry, a son of the 1998 Midlands National winner Miss Orchestra, was bred at Raymond Mould’s former Grange Stud, close to his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies’s stable at Naunton near Cheltenham. He was sold to Irish agent John O’Byrne as a yearling for 23,000 guineas at Doncaster in November, 2002, before being picked up three years later by Twiston-Davies for just 1,200 euros at Tattersalls Ireland. That price looked a bargain from the moment he made his debut in a Worcester bumper on October 5, 2006, when coming home 22 lengths clear of his rivals. After finishing third in a good Cheltenham bumper the following month, he was sent novice hurdling although fell and pulled up on his first two starts when highly tested. He went on to be second in a Kempton novices’ hurdle in February, 2007, before finishing ninth in the Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He was then pulled up in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. He had a dozen outings last season, beginning with a maiden hurdle success at Perth in September. After one more start over hurdles, when third the following month at Cheltenham, he made an auspicious start to his career over fences with a nine-length beginners’ chase victory at Wetherby in November, 2007. Four subsequent chase starts yielded two second places before switching back to the smaller obstacles to win the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster in January last year. He has yet to win again over fences but finished last season with three excellent placed efforts. He was third to Albertas Run in both the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot and RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival before finishing second to Big Buck’s in the Grade Two John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree with Albertas Run in third. He was subsequently bought by Albertas Run’s owner Trevor Hemmings and returned at Cheltenham in November when second of four in a graduation chase. He was subsequently fourth of five in a Sandown intermediate chase, well-beaten in a competitive Cheltenham handicap in January and was most recently pulled up in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton on February 21.
Race Record: Starts: 23; 1st: 4; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 4; Win & Place Prize Money: £89,413
Trevor Hemmings, who was born on June 11, 1935, boasts a classic rags to riches story. Born in Woolwich Arsenal, south 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. He is also a major (42%) 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’ many other interests include Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens in the North West resort. His empire also includes hotels, a wallpaper business and in June, 2000, another company in which he has a major share, Rodime Plc, paid £161 million for the Littlewoods pools business, which included the bookmaker Bet Direct (since sold). He also owns a share of Preston North End FC. In recent years he has stepped up his involvement in racing and 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, managed by former trainer Mick Meagher, at his base at Chorley in Lancashire, 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. His 70-plus horses are split between Sue Smith, Nicky Henderson, Henrietta Knight, Nicky Richards, Henry Daly, Willie Mullins, Jonjo O’Neill, Peter Beaumont, Ferdy Murphy, Chris Grant, Donald McCain Jnr, Oliver Sherwood, Paul Nicholls, Alan King, Venetia Williams, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Malcolm Jefferson while he has predominantly younger stock with Eugene O’Sullivan in Ireland. 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 there.
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)
The Gloucestershire handler combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Frozen Prince at Hereford in March, 1982, before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession. He took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. Born on May 16, 1957, as an amateur jockey Twiston-Davies rode 17 winners under Rules and gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell. A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the former champion jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm, Naunton, Gloucestershire, although Scudamore is no longer involved in the venture, having teamed up with Denis Caro in 2002 and then his father Michael. Twiston-Davies has adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks. An essentially shy man, he momentarily shocked Des Lynam after Earth Summit's Grand National success in 1998 by telling the BBC presenter in front of millions of viewers "I don't do interviews". Twiston-Davies, who has gained 10 successes at the Cheltenham Festival including Imperial Commander in the Ryanair Chase, has many other Aintree victories to his name including the 2000 John Smith's Aintree Hurdle with Mister Morose. He won the bet365 Gold Cup with Beau, and the following season's Hennessy Gold Cup with King's Road. The 2001/2002 campaign had been relatively quiet by Twiston-Davies' high standards before Bindaree provided him with his second John Smith's Grand National success. Afterwards he revealed that he had been intending to give up training, but despite "having a bigger debt than Argentina" after buying out Scudamore, the Aintree victory made him have a change of heart.
John Smith's Grand National Record: 1994 Young Hustler (BD 11th); 1995 Camelot Knight (Fell 21st), Dakyns Boy (UR 10th), Young Hustler (UR 3rd); 1996 Young Hustler (5th), Captain Dibble (11th); 1997 Camelot Knight (3rd), Dakyns Boy (8th), Grange Brake (Refused 27th); 1998 EARTH SUMMIT (WON); 1999 Earth Summit (8th), Camelot Knight (BD 22nd); 2000 Camelot Knight (15th); 2001 Beau (UR 20th), Spanish Main (Fell 1st); 2002 BINDAREE (WON), Frantic Tan (UR 5th), Beau (UR 14th); 2003 Bindaree (6th); 2004 Shardam (UR 3rd), Bindaree (UR 6th); 2005 Bindaree (11th), 2006 Baron Windrush (UR 3rd); 2007 Knowhere (UR 8th); Naunton Brook (PU bef 23rd), 2008 Fundamentalist (Fell 3rd), Ardaghey (Fell 4th), Naunton Brook (PU 19th), Knowhere (UR 25th)
Born on May 22, 1982, Tom Scudamore was appointed stable jockey to David Pipe in the 2006/2007 season, marking a return to Pond House in Somerset where he began his career as an amateur for Pipe's father Martin, and where his own father Peter Scudamore, was also stable jockey. Tom comes from an illustrious line of jockeys. His great-grandfather Geoffrey rode winners as an amateur, grandfather Michael was Oxo's pilot when winning the 1959 Grand National and his father was eight-times champion jockey with 1,677 successes, but never won the John Smith's Grand National. Tom has made a big impression since leaving Cheltenham College after A-levels in 2000. He won the amateur riders' title in the 2000/01 season and also landed the 2001 Flat amateurs’ championship. After 52 unpaid successes, he turned professional in October, 2001, and alongside the backing of Martin Pipe (to whom he was a conditional upon turning professional) he was supported by Nigel Twiston-Davies, to whom his father was formerly assistant. His best winners include Iris Bleu, who won the Agfa Chase at Sandown in February, 2003, but he nearly trumped that in December, 2005, when finishing second on Monkerhostin in the King George VI Chase. He also rides for his brother Michael, who took over the family’s training licence this season. His first Cheltenham Festival winner came aboard An Accordion in last year’s William Hill Handicap Chase while this season’s highlights include a victory in the Levy Board Chase on Madison Du Berlais and three successes on the gutsy hurdler Lough Derg. Scudamore lives with his wife Charlotte and two daughters near Tiverton in Devon.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2001 Northern Starlight (UR 6th); 2002 Smarty (PU 9th); 2003 Blowing Wind (8th); 2004 Shardam (UR 3rd); 2005 Iznogoud (12th); 2006 Iznogoud (PU bef 27th); 2007 Puntal (8th); 2008 Madison Du Berlais (Fell 8th).