Red Rum and Ginger McCain interviewed here by a slightly nervous Frank Bough.
A classic moment when Red Rum hears his jockey Tommy Stack via black and white video link…
Today we said goodbye to trainer Ginger McCain; best known for training Red Rum (pictured together above) and Amberleigh House to win four Grand Nationals between them. Then this year Ginger’s son Donald kept up the family tradition by training another Grand National winner in Ballabriggs.
I read Ginger’s autobiography when it came out a few years ago, this is what he wrote about Red Rum in the chapter Goodbye Red.
Until Amberleigh House won the Grand National for me for a fourth time in 2004, there were those who thought I was a one-horse trainer. I wouldn’t ever say that Red Rum and I were meant for each other. Yet I would say we were good for each other. If I hadn’t got him – and I don’t say this in a boastful fashion – he probably wouldn’t have lasted in racing much beyond the age of nine or ten. Where would he have gone from there? He would never have made a good hunter because Red Rum was Red Rum. He wouldn’t jump a bloody twig if he didn’t want to. And so he was out of this world for me. So, when they said I was a one-horse trainer I said that they were probably right. But I did make a good job of that one horse didn’t I? And I can never be anything but eternally grateful to the old lad.
On his grave at Aintree are written the lines:
Respect this place, this hallowed ground,
A legend here his rest has found.
His feet would fly, our spirits soar.
He earned our love for evermore.
Rather nice, that, isn’t it?
Yes Ginger, it is.
I don’t see the Grand National that way; in fact I usually don’t see it all, as it makes me so nervous. Nowadays I would prefer any number of flat races, but as a child I knew what the race was alright: a black and white horse racing bonanza that Red Rum nearly always won. As a child in the 1970s, I knew, because I saw them, that Red Rum was the greatest racehorse, Muhammed Ali was the greatest boxer and Nottingham Forest were the greatest football team. End of the matter. And even with various horses and boxers winning in glorious technicolour since, I have not changed my mind about the first two sporting legends.
Red Rum was the last horse to win back-to-back Nationals (his second in 1974) so with that being nearly 40 years ago you could say with statistics on your side that Don’t Push It has a mountain to climb in defence of his crown this afternoon. On the other hand you could say that the statistics could be offset by the power of the man in saddle: the McCoy factor.
I won’t be saying any of those things. I will be backing State of Play in the National for the third time in this race. This year he races off 10 stone 6 pounds (his lightest weight ever in the race) and he goes to Aintree with no prep run at all. In fact, if anything, his prep run was last year’s 3rd place in the Grand National. I don’t know if this will make any difference, but his trainer, Evan Williams, seems happy enough with the horse and he has a fair enough chance.
Fingers crossed for all the runners and riders at 4.15 this afternoon: they are all a lot braver than me.
From Ginger McCain’s My Colourful Life.
Around the time the time we acquired Red Rum, I was struck by the fact that world champion boxer Sugar Ray Robinson had taken his own hairdresser with him wherever he went. I thought, well, if Sugar Ray had a personal hairdresser, Red Rum can have his own blacksmith. So, when Red Rum went racing, Bob went with him…
…From the moment we first saw that Red Rum had his problems, Bob took care of him. No other person ever shod him. He wouldn’t let anyone else touch his feet. Neither would I.