Owned by billionaire businessman Trevor Hemmings and trained, in Co. Carlow, by Irish champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins, Hedgehunter is best remembered for winning the Grand National, at the second attempt, in 2005, rewarding many of those who stuck with him. Ridden by Ruby Walsh, the nine-year-old survived a mistake at the fence after Valentine’s Brook on the first circuit and his jockey briefly losing an iron at the fence before Becher’s Brook on the second. He was left in the lead when Clan Royal was hampered by loose horses approaching Becher’s Brook and made the rest of the running, eventually coming home 14 lengths ahead of his nearest pursuer, Royal Auclair.
On his previous attempt in the National, in 2004, Hedgehunter had been ridden more positively by Ruby Walsh, but was a spent force when falling at the final fence. Hedgehunter returned to Aintree for the 2006 Grand National, in which he was allotted top weight, of 11st 12lb, but was nevertheless a favourite in grand national tips columns and was sent off 5/1 favourite to win for the second year running. He had previously run arguably the race of his life to finish second, beaten 2½ lengths, behind War Of Attrition in the Cheltenham Gold Cup just three weeks earlier but, although left in the lead by the fall of Ballycassidy at Valentine’s Brook on the second circuit, was outjumped by Numbersixvalverde, ridden by Niall “Slippers” Madden, at the final fence and eventually went down by 6 lengths.
Hedgehunter ran in the National twice more, finishing ninth of 12 finishers behind Silver Birch in 2007 and thirteenth of 15 finishers behind Comply Or Die in 2008, after which he was immediately retired.