By Andrew Atkinson Chief Sports Editor

Three-times Grand National winner, Trevor Hemmings, died on October 11, aged 86.

I knew and spoke to Mr Hemmings, who owned Championship club Preston North End, during reporting on The Lilywhites at Deepdale and at race meetings, notably Chester.

Always happy and friendly he went out of his way to have a chat about both football and his beloved racing exploits.

Mr Hemmings informed me he received five copies of the book I published in 2000, ‘Racing Into the Millennium’, for his 65th birthday.

Affectionately deemed ‘Sir Trev’ by North End fans he bought a controlling interest in Preston North End in June 2010 after the club had received a winding-up petition.

The leisure tycoon, who once owned Blackpool Tower, he was a leading racehorse owner and breeder, winning the Aintree Grand National on three occasions.

Mr Hemmings, who lived on the Isle of Man, saw his green, yellow and white colours carried to victory in the Aintree Grand National at Aintree by Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).

Cloth Cap, named after his favourite headwear, was favourite for the 2021 Aintree National, but was unable to give him a record fourth triumph.

He won the Hennessy Gold Cup with Trabolgan and his Cheltenham Festival successes included two Ryanair Chase wins for Albertas Run. He also owned eventing horses ridden by Zara Tindall.

Born in Woolwich, London, his father worked at the Royal Ordnance factory. After moving to Lancashire, he began work as a bricklayer’s apprentice upon leaving school at 15. He twice owned holiday camp chain Pontins.

A director at Preston in the 1970s, Mr Hemmings completed the takeover of the club in 2010 after his Deepdale PNE company acquired 51% of the shares, having initially held 28%.

In 2011, he was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) for his work as vice-president of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

“We are saddened by the news of Trevor Hemmings’ passing and send our sincere condolences to all at Preston North End this evening,” said the EFL. “Rest in peace, Trevor.”

Mr Hemmings had approaching 100 horses, among 17 trainers.  In 2008 he reduced those numbers.

He was worth £1.115 billion according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

Former jockey-turned trainer Jonjo O’Neill who trained four-time Grade 1 winner Albertas Run for Hemmings and 2020 Ladbrokes Trophy winner Cloth Cap, said: “It’s hard to think of words because I’m still in shock really. It was the last thing you expect to hear.

“I was just speaking to him a few days ago and he was in great form and looking forward to the new season.

“We were discussing Cloth Cap and he said, ‘We’ll go the same route again, only make sure you win the National this time!’.

“He was a great man and a lovely man to train for. He loved his jumping. You enjoyed him ringing up because he’d always be full of fun and devilment. It’s a big loss to jump racing and he’ll be sadly missed.

“We had a great run with Albertas Run and had plenty of winners with him. It’s a nice way for him to go but just sad for everybody else.

“He was a sociable chap who enjoyed life. He loved his days at the races, a winner anywhere was great for him and you could hear it in his voice how much he enjoyed it.”

Rest in Peace, Mr Hemmings. You will always be remembered by me with great affection.

Mr Hemmings is survived by his wife, Eve, and their four children.

Caption: Trevor Hemmings has died, aged 86.