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Tanya Stevenson's Racing UK Blog

A Tribute to Ginger McCain - Tanya Stevenson

Tanya Stevenson

Tanya Stevenson

Donald "Ginger" McCain (21 September 1930 – 19 September 2011) was one person you thought could live forever. Although gone from us now, his spirit, quick wit and legacy remain. With every visit to Aintree, faint echoes of commentary of Red Rum’s exploits warms our hearts. Red Rum and Ginger aren’t just part of racing history they created it. It was those atmospheric shots of Rummy training on the beach which we always remember. Southport sands were kind to Rummy’s aching hooves and tendons. They must have contained magical powers, for it’s hard enough to compete in the Grand National once, let alone run in it five times, winning three and finishing second twice. Ginger and Rummy captured the hearts of varying generations and romanced them to the sport of racing. In five years the villains who defeated Crisp became the heroes who conquered Aintree. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house on National Day in 1977 and it’s testament to Ginger that we still well up now whenever Red Rum’s third victory is played.

Ginger McCain

Ginger McCain
Ginger helped resuscitate and breathe new life into the Grand National. He was racing’s lifeguard in a torrid and treacherous, obstructive sea of discontent towards the race. Ginger realised that it if you respect Aintree and its fearsome obstacles, the course will respect and reward you. For in 2004 the history books had to be dusted down and written in once more. While his rivals plundered over the spruce, Amberleigh House hunted around the 30 fences, still a fair distance behind at the Melling Road you almost felt the swathe of support as Ginger’s fourth National win look possible and by the elbow the wall of sound was too much for Clan Royal and Lord Attenbury as Graham Lee and Amberleigh House bounded down the long run-in for an emotional success, reminding us who will forever reign supreme at Aintree.

Another chapter in the McCain and Aintree love story was etched in folklore this year when son Donald trained Ballabriggs to National glory. With Ginger by his side Donald had fulfilled a dream we all craved. Proud father, talented son. People flinched when Ginger spoke, many say you never knew what was coming, in a jovial manner, short, sharp and to the point, as in all walks of life the truth hurts and he would be liberal in dishing out what was need to be heard.

But with Ginger held in such high regard and loved by all, his comments were given the utmost respect. The worry is who is going to bring racing back down to reality now. For me there were two Christmases each year, one in December and one in Liverpool in early April. There was nothing I looked forward to more than the three days of the Grand National Meeting. The venue lights up, making dreams and hopes come true and the probable possible.

Ginger’s exploits with Red Rum was an inspiration to me and millions of others. CVs drop on my desk all quoting their first introduction to racing was courtesy of the Grand National and they’ve been hooked ever since. The race has been, and is, watched by millions worldwide. Ginger was an ambassador for not just racing but British sport in general and he carried the mantle well, oozing charisma and witticism. The Patron Saint of Aintree, Ginger McCain was one person you thought could live forever and in our hearts be assured he will.

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