McCain takes Knock to revive National interest
If there is one family inextricably linked with the Aintree Grand National, it is the McCains.
'Ginger' sent out Red Rum to become the only horse to win a third National 40 years ago and followed it up with Amberleigh House in 2004.
His son Donald, who played a big part behind the scenes in the 2004 race, won it in his own right in 2011 with Ballabriggs. But in 2016, for the first time in years, there was no McCain-trained runner.
Donald had trained The Last Samuri for three years with the race in mind until he was removed from his yard along with a number of other horses belonging to Paul Rooney. The horse is now in the care of Kim Bailey.
In the belief that his former inmate was sure to win, McCain decided to avoid Aintree and did not see The Last Samuri chase home Rule The World. "I went away for the weekend," explained McCain yesterday. "I couldn't face it."
But McCain - on the mark yesterday at Sedgefield with the William Kennedy-ridden Whitsundays - will be back at Aintree next week, whether or not Knock House, his only entry in this year's race, makes the cut.
The eight-year-old, is currently 50th in the handicap and needs 10 to drop out. "He's a nice-ground horse and almost as soon as we ran him the ground went," explained the trainer, who bought Knock House out of Mick Channon's yard last summer.
"We had his wind tidied up and he galloped all the way to the line in a hurdle at Haydock recently. We thought he had no chance of getting into the National but he's borderline now. If he doesn't get in, he's also in the Topham and a three-mile chase on National day, but he's only eight and there'll be other years for the National."
McCain, who has spent the past two years rebuilding and is going great guns again with over 70 winners this season, said: "We've got a lot of nice young horses coming through. Hopefully, there'll be plenty to take to Aintree in the years to come." (© Daily Telegraph, London)