It’s always going to be difficult when you decide to follow in your father’s footsteps, but it’s got to be a thousand times harder when your father is none other than the legendary Ginger McCain, trainer of the most famous horse in the racing world, Red Rum.
Ginger’s name is synonymous with the Grand National – after all Red Rum won the world’s greatest steeplechase three times, in 1973, 1974 and 1977, and McCain won it again in 2004 with Amberleigh House. Hard shoes to fill indeed, and some critics have been sceptical in the past that McCain Jnr has what it takes to do it.
However one look at his Cheltenham and Aintree successes and all doubts are gone. McCain Jnr has made a huge impact on the racing world already, notching up fifty winners in his first season alone, including eleven in May when the training licence was still in his father’s name.
Father Ginger was quick to credit Donald when he won his fourth Grand National with Amberleigh House in 2004: ‘Donald would have had a National already if he hadn’t been such a gentleman and given it to his father. No one knows how to prepare a horse for the Grand National better than us; as well perhaps, but not better. But I’ve always believed Donald could make a far better trainer than me. For a start, he is much more diplomatic. He takes the job very seriously indeed. He’s a good lad and a good trainer.’
It is definitely no secret that Donald McCain is a good trainer, in fact he is an outstanding trainer, and those who longed to see him win a really big race were made very happy on the Wednesday of the 2010 Cheltenham Festival. While McCain had experienced success at the Festival before – Cloudy Lane won the 2007 Kim Muir chase, while Whiteoak lifted the inaugural David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle twelve months later – but when Peddlers Cross took the Grade One Neptune Investments Hurdle, it confirmed beyond doubt that McCain’s star is in the ascendance.
An that star ascended very high indeed when Ballabriggs, gave the McCain family a fifth National success in the 2011 Grand National. Along with stable jockey Jason Maguire he was the perfect Grand National horse and proved, once again, that the McCain’s certainly know how to train them!
He has over 140 horses in training, which is nearly four times the number he had in 2009 and has been giving his fellow trainers Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson a real run for their money this season as he bids to get his hands on the much coveted UK National Hunt Trainers Championship.
Having met Donald McCain Jnr, I can honestly say that he is a thoroughly nice man as are the staff at his stable yard at Bank House, Cholmondeley, Cheshire.