Big day ahead for PNE owner Trevor
Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings is preparing for a hectic day on Saturday.
No sooner will the final whistle have blown at Middlesbrough where PNE are playing, he will then nervously wait at Aintree for the outcome of the Grand National, due off at 5.15pm, when his horse Many Clouds bids for a double last achieved by Red Rum in 1974.
And a win by the Oliver Sherwood-trained gelding would put Hemmings in a unique place in the annals of Grand National history.
No owner has won the National four times.
Eighty-year-old Hemmings has three National triumphs to his name so far – Many Clouds, Ballabriggs and Hedgehunter.
Many Clouds heads the weights for Saturday’s Aintree spectacular, which will be watched by a global audience on television of 600m and is expected to generate betting turnover well in excess of £100m.
Many Clouds heads the weights at 11st 10lb, just one pound more than he carried to victory in the 2015 National.
He faces 39 rivals in this year’s race for which he is the ante-post favourite.
Such is the class of the race that it means there is no place for 2014 winner Pineau De Re, nor Alvarado, who has finished fourth for the last two years.
Last year’s runner-up Saint Are will try to go one better, while other fancied runners include Silviniaco Conti, The Last Samuri, Holywell, The Druids Nephew and Shutthefrontdoor.
The omens could be good for a Hemmings’ four-timer in the National, as his seven-year-old Katachenko prevailed in a tight finish to win the Betfred Red Rum Handicap Steeplechase over the Mildmay Fences on day one of the Aintree meeting.
Given a positive ride by jockey Wayne Hutchinson, Katachenko battled on gamely after a serious slip at the last.
Hemmings said: “He was very brave. He didn’t make a mistake at the last, but pecked on landing.
Speaking in the winners’ enclosure, he added: “Let’s hope I am in the same place on Saturday.”
Fittingly for a race with Red Rum in the title, Katachenko is trained by Donald McCain Junior, whose late father Ginger trained the great horse to win the National three times.