Training racehorses is a privileged life, it is a privilege to work with such wonderful animals every day, a privilege to develop a young and motivated team of staff and a privilege to work with many remarkable people as Owners.  One of those has been Trevor Hemmings who sadly died on Tuesday this week, he never came to Kinneston but had taken a keen interest in the yard since he became involved in the summer of 2018.

When Lake View Lad’s previous owner, Alistair Cochrane’s business sadly and suddenly collapsed I received a call informing me that I had 24 hours to find a buyer for the horse that was the rising star of Scottish jump racing or else he was going to another Trainer who had made an offer.  After a sleepless night I made one call the next morning at 9am to Trevor’s agent David Minton.  By 9.25am the deal was done and by 3pm that afternoon Alistair had the money, a fairly substantial sum.  Fortunately Trevor had the confidence to leave the horse with us and promptly sent us another and I was delighted to reward that confidence with Lake View Lad winning two valuable and prestigious Graded Handicaps before the end of the year – the Rehearsal Chase and the Rowland Meyrick.

Lake View Lad

Trevor wasn’t at either of those fixtures but I know he hugely enjoyed the wins from the Directors Box at his beloved Preston North End, surrounded by supportive friends and family to share the celebrations – home matches always took precedence over racing.  This was followed by a valiant close 3rd under top weight in the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival; hard to admit it but we weren’t trying especially hard that day as the main spring target was very much the Grand National and this was the second option prep race with the ground at Kelso having been too quick.

The big race followed with high expectations but good ground and a poor start meant we never had a look in, what I remember that day was going up to Trevor’s box an hour or so after the race with Lucy, there was nobody else there apart from the main man and we sat and drank tea for 20 minutes.  He was so disappointed, his three runners had all run badly and he described it as his worst National ever yet after a few minutes of bemoaning our collective misfortune we had a lovely chat hearing tales of his early days working in Scotland and how he built businesses with the Salvesens and then Scottish and Newcastle.  Lake View Lad then ran into a few problems, serious sinus and suspensory issues and he was hard to train in the 2019/20 season, Covid 19 then struck and Trevor was confined to the Isle of Man, his many hospitality businesses were under serious pressure so 70% of his horses were sold, three from here included but fortunately not Lake View Lad.  Despite being in hospital for yet another sinus operation this time last year we managed to get him back to his best for Aintree’s December Meeting where against the odds he won the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase, named in memory of Trevor’s third and final Grand National winner.  Behind closed doors of course but Trevor rang me from the Isle of Man and I have seldom had anyone on the phone so excited, happy and overjoyed – what a privilege to be able to provide that excitement.

Lake View Lad here at Kinneston on Wednesday morning

Trevor took himself from being a bricklayer to a billionaire through unrelenting hard work, honesty, shrewdness and by surrounding himself and trusting good people.  It is no coincidence that not only is Lake View Lad the most expensive horse that I’ve ever sold to an Owner, he is also one of the few that has actually made that Owner money.  Being involved with Trevor’s team has enabled our Team here at Kinneston to move to another level and we will all be eternally grateful for that, we are among thousands who benefited from association with a very special man whose loss will be keenly felt across many spheres, none more so than in National Hunt racing.

Team Kinneston – ready for action!

As is the norm for this time of year rumours are circulating as to whether we may have given up training such is the paucity of runners appearing from the yard.  I am pleased to be able to report that this is certainly not the case and we have never been busier, hopefully we will be riding out 50 horses on Monday morning of which about 35 are ready to run, entries will increase over the coming days and weeks and if a little more rain arrives, so will the runners…

We were fortunate that the Racing Post sent John Grossick in take some photographs on Wednesday, excellent as ever and will feature on the blog over the coming weeks