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Aintree Grand National Horses 5th April 2008 

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Grand National 2008 -
[Runner Fact Files]

HEDGEHUNTER (IRE)
b g Montelimar (USA) - Aberedw (IRE) (Caerwent)
12-11-12 Form: 2222/242621/223102/431F/0240611/04222/500-P502
Owner: Trevor Hemmings
Trainer: Willie Mullins IRE
Breeder: Tony Keogh

Hedgehunter
© racing-images.co.uk

Hedgehunter
Hedgehunter’s career began in February, 2001, with four seconds in bumpers. He started the 2001/2002 campaign over hurdles, adding another ‘2' to his form figures when going down by five lengths in a maiden at Punchestown in November, 2001. It was on his 10th start that he registered a first success when coming home 20 lengths clear on heavy ground in a Clonmel maiden hurdle in February, 2002. He was sent chasing in the 2002/03 season and his form progressed to a new level over the larger obstacles. Two seconds and a third in novice and beginners’ chases were followed by an 11-length win in the Grand National Trial Handicap at Punchestown on February 2, 2003. He then, after being bought by Trevor Hemmings, travelled to the 2003 Cheltenham Festival for the four-mile National Hunt Chase where he was going exceptionally well before a mistake two out almost brought him down. That season was rounded off by finishing second to stablemate Rule Supreme at Punchestown. The 2003/04 season began with a second visit to Britain when finishing fourth to Strong Flow in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury and continued with third place, 23 lengths behind Bindaree, in the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27 before an eight-length win in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park on January 22. He then headed for the John Smith’s Grand National and ran a game race from the front, looking assured of at least a place when falling at the last. In the 2004/05 season, his first five races came over hurdles, with his best effort being a second at Thurles in December. He put himself in the picture for another crack at the John Smith’s Grand National when landing the Bobbyjo Chase at Leopardstown on February 19 after the weights came out. He made up for his last fence blunder the previous year when scoring an emphatic victory in the 2005 John Smith’s Grand National under Ruby Walsh, beating Royal Auclair by 14 lengths when the 7/1 favourite. He finished 14th of 23 on his first start of the 2005/06 season in a Fairyhouse handicap hurdle on December 4. He was a respectable fourth to Beef Or Salmon in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown later that month, and returned to that venue to be runner-up to the same rival in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup on February 12. He then ran right up to his best when two and a half lengths second to War Of Attrition in the 2006 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 17. He subsequently made a gallant attempt under top-weight to become the first horse to win consecutive John Smith’s Grand Nationals since Red Rum when he found only Numbersixvalverde six lengths too good. For the 2006/07 campaign, Hedgehunter made three appearances, finishing fifth to stablemate Mossy Green in a handicap hurdle at Thurles in November and ninth of 16 over hurdles at Limerick at the start of April. He proved he was still a major player as an 11-year-old in last year’s John Smith’s Grand National, finishing ninth under top-weight, despite being hampered twice on the second circuit. This season, Hedgehunter has been kept busy in some of Ireland’s top chases. Having been pulled up in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in December, the 12-year-old followed up disappointing efforts in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles and the Irish Hennessy at Leopardstown with a far better display in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse in February, finishing a good second to Afistfullofdollars.

Race Record: Starts: 39; Wins: 5; 2nd: 15; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £784,593


Trevor Hemmings
Trevor Hemmings, who was born on June 11, 1935, boasts a classic rags to riches story. Born in London, he was sent to Lancashire as a child during World War II and began life as a bricklayer’s apprentice and 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. He is also a major shareholder in Arena Leisure Plc, which owns Folkestone, Lingfield, Southwell, Wolverhampton and Windsor racecourses and manages Doncaster, Great Leighs 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 was said to be worth £980 million in the 2007 Sunday Times Rich List. 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 Hegehunter carried his colours to victory in the 2005 John Smith’s Grand National. After years of trying, Hemmings finally emulated his mentor Fred Pontin, owner of the 1971 National hero Specify, with his 13th Grand National runner Hedgehunter. 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 80-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, 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 in the Channel Islands and is said to have paid £12 million for the Ballavodan estate on the Isle Of Man. Hemmings had a double at this year’s Cheltenham Festival with Albertas Run in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase and Old Benny in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase.

John Smith’s Grand National Record (since 1980): 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 19)

 

Willie Mullins IRE
Born September 15, 1956, Willie Mullins was six-times amateur champion rider in Ireland and his major successes in the saddle included the 1983 John Smith’s Fox Hunters' Chase at Aintree on Atha Cliath, before taking out a training licence in 1988. He hails from one of Ireland's most famous racing families, being a son of Paddy Mullins, the now retired outstanding all-round trainer, whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later. Willie Mullins rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper, the Cheltenham Festival race in which he has saddled six winners (also Florida Pearl 1997, Alexander Banquet 1998, Joe Cullen 2000, Missed That 2005 and Cousin Vinny 2008). Mullins saddled Rule Supreme to win the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the 2004 Cheltenham Festival and sent out the same horse to win the Irish Hennessy in 2005. His best horse to date has been Florida Pearl, who was placed in two Cheltenham Gold Cups, won the 1998 Royal & SunAlliance Chase, the 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004 Irish Hennessy Cognac Gold Cups in Ireland as well as the 2001 King George VI Chase and the 2002 totesport Bowl at Aintree. Mullins, who began training in 1988, has around 100 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in Co Carlow and his first John Smith’s Grand National runner as a trainer, Micko's Dream, fell at the first in 2000, while, as a jockey, his rides included The Ladys Master, who ran out in 1983, and Hazy Dawn, who fell at the sixth the following year. The loquacious Mullins, a former chairman of the Irish Trainers' Federation, also suffered heartache in 2004 when Hedgehunter departed at the final fence in the John Smith’s Grand National when looking assured of a place. Mullins overcame bad luck in the John Smith’s Grand National the following year when Hedgehunter came home 14 lengths clear of Royal Auclair. Hedgehunter was then second the following year and ninth in 2007. Mullins has trained 12 Cheltenham Festival winners, most recently scoring a quick double this year with Cousin Vinny in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper (ridden by his 18-year-old son Patrick) and Fiveforthree in the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2000 Micko's Dream (Fell 1st); 2002 Alexander Banquet (UR 6th), 2004 Alexander Banquet (Fell 18th); Hedgehunter (Fell 30th); 2005 HEDGEHUNTER (WON), 2006 Hedgehunter (2nd), 2007 Hedgehunter (9th), Homer Wells (PU bef 22nd), Bothar Na (PU bef 29th), Livingstonebramble (UR 6th)

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