This weekend sees crowds return to the Grand National for the first time since we first heard of Covid.
However, one person who won’t be back at the world’s most famous horse race is islander Sir Trevor Hemmings who sadly died last year at the age of 86.
A record-equalling three-time National-winning owner, Sir Trevor made the island his home and, as well as running his Ballaseyr stud where many of his retired winning horses lived, ran businesses and supported charities on the island.
With his racers decked out in his distinct yellow and green colours, many a Manx punter followed his horses up and down the UK and Ireland, but none more so than during the Grand National. Beginning in 2005 with Hedgehunter, Sir Trev would see three ‘Manx’ winners at the National with Ballabriggs in 2011 and Many Clouds in 2015.
History looked set to be written last year when Cloth Cap entered the National as a favourite but was ultimately pulled up as Rachael Blackmore made history herself as the first female jockey to win the big one riding Minella Times.
His last big winner came at Cheltenham in 2021 when Vintage Clouds rolled back the years to defy odds of 28/1 but alas that four Grand National win would elude him.
Since Sir Trevor’s death, his estate has continued running his horses and tomorrow Cloth Cap and Deise Aba will be flying the green and yellow (and mini Manx) flag.
Away from the racecourse, his friendship with the Royals was an open secret and he provided High Kingdom, on which the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall won a silver medal at London 2012.
While he made his money in business and horses, Sir Trevor was a big supporter of several charities, his obituary in the Guardian listed Princess Royal’s Carers Trust, the Red Cross, the RNLI, Samaritans, the Carers Trust and the £300,000 he donated towards a centre at the Royal Preston hospital for victims of sexual assault.
On the island, he also supported several charities. Not long before his death, Sir Trevor opened the new playground at Rebecca House with Dylan Walton after he made a significant donation towards the funds that Dylan raised for the playground.
During a tour of Rebecca House that day, he was so impressed by the work done that Hospice CEO Anne Mills revealed he donated a further £25,000 to support their work.
That is just one of the few charitable donations we heard of, we know he was a supporter of Diabetes Isle of Man and in the days after his death, others remarked on the support he had given them during his time here.
The other element of his life on the island was business. Now, this is totally self-indulgent here as, alongside Ramsey Park Hotel, Sir Trevor also owned the Bride Tea Rooms where he regularly would go for dinner on Fridays. I know this because my mother, along with her friends, also regularly would go for dinner there and she would comment about how friendly he was, how he would offer a tip here or there about horses he had running that weekend and how he would sit with his famous cloth cap on the table.