VIDEO: Legendary Red Rum trainer Ginger McCain dies
AINTREE legend Ginger McCain, trainer of the great Red Rum, has died aged 80.
McCain saddled Red Rum to win the Grand National three times, in 1973, 1974 and 1977, before winning the Aintree marathon for a fourth time with Amberleigh House in 2004.
McCain's wife Beryl said: "Donald, Ginger as we all knew him, passed away peacefully in his sleep after a short illness this morning - he would have been 81 on Wednesday.
"There will be a private family funeral followed by a later memorial service, for which there will be more information in the coming weeks.
"Joanne, Donald Jnr and I appreciate all the kindness we are being shown and, at this difficult time, would appreciate it if we were afforded some privacy."
McCain began his training career as a permit holder in 1953 and took out a full licence in 1969 when his stables were behind his car showroom in Southport.
He worked as a taxi driver to supplement his income as a trainer prior to finding Grand National success. It was as a taxi driver that he became acquainted with Noel le Mare for whom he bought Red Rum.
He retired after the 2006 Grand National and handed over the licence to his son Donald, who maintained the family tradition by winning this year's race with Ballabriggs from their base at Cholmondeley in Cheshire.
The "voice of racing" Sir Peter O'Sullevan commentated on all of Red Rum's Nationals for the BBC and believes McCain played a big part in helping to save the race.
"It was a career of remarkable achievement and he has bred a good trainer himself," he said.
"He will always be remembered for Red Rum and rightly so because he and the horse appeared absolutely at the right time and were very much instrumental in saving the National at a period when it was very much in peril.
"Red Rum had a remarkable record. Five runs in the National, three victories and two seconds - unbelievable. And then he won it again years later with Amberleigh House.
"It was nice for Ginger to have the opportunity to show he wasn't just a one-horse trainer.
"He was a professional curmudgeon and he goes behind leaving very good memories."