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Home » Sport

Racing salutes 'legend' McCain

Grand National-winning owner John Halewood led the tributes to Aintree legend Ginger McCain, who has died after a short illness.

McCain, affectionately known as Mr Grand National, made racing history by saddling Red Rum to win the great race three times in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and added a fourth towards the end of his career with Amberleigh House in 2004 to give Halewood his greatest thrill as an owner.

"I was fortunate to have known Ginger for nearly 30 years - he was a good friend and I remember him not just for the horses we had together, but also for the great fun we shared," he said.

"It is impossible to replace him - he was a man's man in every sense but I also know he was very proud of Beryl and the family and was delighted with Donald's deserved success. It is a very sad end of an era. He is a true legend and I will miss him very much."

Tommy Stack rode Red Rum to that historic third National success and the Irish trainer said: "Ginger was a great man and a great friend and it was my pleasure to have known him. I rode for him in numerous occasions and when he asked me about Red Rum at Doncaster Sales, I said never school him.

"He asked me to ride him when he first got him and he also asked me to ride him in his first Grand National, but I was retained by somebody else. To produce Red Rum on five occasions at Aintree and to never finish out of the first two is an achievement which will never be equalled."

Red Rum's first National triumph came at the expense of Crisp who was collared in the final strides after making the fearsome Aintree fences look like twigs.

His jockey Richard Pitman said: "He was such a marvellous man. Legend is used quite widely but he was a legend and he was bigger than life. You couldn't fail to enjoy yourself in his company.

"I thought the world of him and knew him as a friend right from the early days. I used to go with him to Southport sands when he was exercising the horses. It was great that Amberleigh House made his fourth win because there was so many people who felt he was a one-horse man. Of course he wasn't."

Ballabriggs won this year's National for Ginger's son Donald, and his owner Trevor Hemmings added: "Legend is the correct word for Ginger. He was a remarkable man and it was so nice to have the character in racing that he was. We all know that this game needs characters like that and Ginger was unique."

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