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Aintree Grand National Horses 5th April 2008 

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IDLE TALK (IRE)
br g Hubbly Bubbly (USA) - Belon Breeze (IRE) (Strong Gale)
8-11-02 Form: 141P/11324-32UU
Owner: Trevor Hemmings
Trainer: Donald McCain Jnr
Breeder: Roland Rothwell

Idle Talk’s career to date is largely one of unfulfilled potential. The lightly-raced gelding, a 2,000 guineas purchase as a foal at Tattersalls Ireland in November 1999, competed three times in Irish point-to-points, finishing fourth on his debut at Bartlemy in May 2003, before scoring by a distance in a three-mile maiden at Carrigtwohill on February 1, 2004. He unseated his rider in his final point at Liscarroll the following month. Transferred to Tom George in Gloucestershire ahead of the 2004/2005 season, Idle Talk made an impressive winning debut under Rules in a three-mile soft ground maiden hurdle at Chepstow on October 30, 2004. Pitched in to Grade Two company for his second start, he ran with great credit to take fourth behind Brewster in the Brit Insurance Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in December. A smooth victory in a novice contest at Lingfield followed in February, 2005, before an anti-climax to the campaign in the Grade One John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April, in which he was pulled up behind Asian Maze. Steeplechasing beckoned and Idle Talk made a great start to his fencing career, defeating Lord Killeshanra in a Worcester beginners’ chase on November 1, before dismissing Reflected Glory in a novice event at Exeter on January 2, 2006. His unbeaten status over fences came to an end in the Grade Two Reynoldstown Chase, run over three miles on heavy ground at Lingfield on February 18, as he was beaten a distance in third, by Montgermont. He posted a career best effort on his next start in the Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Chase at Cheltenham that March as he filled the runner-up spot, six lengths behind Star De Mohaison, conceding 10lb. His novice season ended with a cracking effort against seasoned handicappers in the four miles, one furlong Grade Three Scottish Grand National at Ayr, in which he finished fourth to Run For Paddy. The 2006/2007 season promised much and he made a pleasing start when a half-length second to My Will in a Grade Three handicap at Cheltenham on November 11. He was then only sixth in the Grade Three Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury won by State Of Play later that month. Jumping errors cost him dearly in the Grade Two Letheby & Christopher Chase at Cheltenham on January 27, as he unseated Richard Johnson at the ninth fence. Subsequently sold to Trevor Hemmings and switched to Donald McCain’s Cheshire yard, Idle Talk contested the Grade One Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 16. The gelding, partnered as in all bar two of his 13 starts by Jason Maguire, was bumped by a rival and was unfortunate to unseat his rider at the fifth fence.

Race Record: Jumps Starts: 13; Wins: 4: 2nd: 2; 3rd: 1; Win and Place Prize Money: £81,198

 

Trevor Hemmings
Trevor Hemmings, 70, boasts a classic rags to riches story. He began life as a bricklayer’s apprentice in Lancashire 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 is no longer a director of S & N, the parent company of John Smith’s, although he still has a substantial stake and bought Pontin’s back in 2000. 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’ many other interests include Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens in the North West town. 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 includes the bookmaker Bet Direct. He was said to be worth £928 million in the 2006 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, and he purchased leading hope Beau for an undisclosed sum a few days before the 2002 race - only to see the horse unseat Carl Llewellyn at the 14th fence. 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, where his son Philip is pupil assistant, Alan King, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Richard Ford and with Eric Alston on the Flat while he has predominantly younger stock with Eugene O’Sullivan in Ireland. Hemmings resides in the Channel Islands and is said to have paid £12 million for the Ballavodan estate on the Isle Of Man. 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)

 

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 Grand National three times (1973, 1974 and 1977) and also Amberleigh House, the 2004 John Smith’s Grand National 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 current jump season, but had to wait until June before he was able to train in his own name as he needed to complete the appropriate British Horseracing Board courses. Donald’s first winner as a licensed trainer came with Bearaway in a handicap chase at Newton Abbott on June 8. So far this season, Donald has trained 39 winners (up to March 25), and secured his first Cheltenham Festival triumph with Cloudy Lane in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase. Donald is assisted by Ginger McCain.

John Smith’s Grand National Record: No previous runners

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