Racing: McCain you've done it again

The horse racing dynasty behind Grand National great Red Rum was celebrating victory in the world's toughest steeplechase again yesterday, thanks to Ballabriggs.

Trainer Donald McCain was only 6 years old in 1977 when Red Rum - saddled by his father Ginger - completed a unique treble of wins on the Aintree Racecourse.

And the weight of expectation only grew on the new generation when Ginger also sent out Amberleigh House for a Grand National triumph in 2004.

But the 80-year-old McCain wept tears of joy yesterday as Donald joined him on the Aintree roll of honour five years after handing over the family stables to him.

"It just proves that a good trainer can come from anywhere, despite the breeding," Ginger quipped. "Aintree always comes up with wonderful stories and it is the case again today."

In front of a first capacity crowd at Aintree for almost 30 years and a reported worldwide television audience of 600 million, 10-year-old Ballabriggs finished 2-lengths ahead of fellow 14-1 shot Oscar Time in the 164th Grand National.

"It's just fantastic for all involved," Donald McCain said. "I've been associated with the Grand National all of my life and I felt really involved with Amberleigh House."

A life-size bronze statue of Red Rum stands at the Liverpool course, where he won in 1973, '74 and '77 and was second in '75 and '76 - a record that has never been matched.

The 30-year-old horse was buried under the finish line after dying in 1996.

After winning the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup this season, amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen had to settle for second place on board Oscar Time as Jason Maguire rode Ballabriggs to glory.

"I tried to get in the first 10 early on so that if he did make a mistake we hadn't as much ground to make up - he loved it and was jumping from fence to fence," Maguire said.

The bookmakers escaped serious losses after 2010 winner and 9-1 shot Don't Push It, ridden again by A.P. McCoy, came third; and the heavily backed The Midnight Club, ridden by Ruby Walsh, finished sixth.

"We haven't won enough to bail out Portugal, but it won't be a sleepless night in Hill's offices," a William Hill spokeswoman said.

- AP

- NZ Herald

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