The 2011 National winner Ballabriggs has been retired. The horse which wrote the latest amazing chapter in the McCain family’s extraordinary association with the world’s greatest steeplechase is now aged 12 and was pulled up in this year's National - which was won by Auroras Encore. He finished sixth in the 2012 Grand National.
Donald McCain Junior decided to retire the horse after talking with his owner Trevor Hemmings. McCain paid tribute to the horse and said that even if he never managed t win another National – at least he would always have one under his belt thanks to Ballabriggs.
Ballabriggs won 7 of his 28 starts over his career, winning over £624k in prize money along the way. But it will be for the 2011 National, of course, that he will always be remembered. The then 10-year-old won in fine style having led for much of the race. And on the long run-in, the gelding gamely saw off a very strong challenge from amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen on board Oscar Time whilst third place went to the previous year’s
winner Don't Push It ridden by Tony McCoy.
Donald McCain was a child when his father trained the record-breaking Red Rum to three Grand National victories and two runners-up places between 1973 and 77. But he clearly learned a few Aintree tricks along the way from the late Ginger and took over the family’s training yard in 2006 when Ginger retired - just two years after he had enjoyed yet more National success with 12 year-old winner Amberleigh House. Ballabriggs had won 5 from his previous 6 six races immediately before the 2011 National and was bang on form on the day.
Thankfully, Ginger McCain got to see his son Donald emulate his Aintree feat before his death from cancer just five months later on 19 September 2011, two days before his 81st birthday.
On the opening day of the 2012 National, a bronze statue of Ginger was unveiled at Aintree looking down on the winning post where his great victories unfolded and just yards from Red Rum himself who is buried next to the winning post.