Amberleigh House Grand National Wins
- 2004 - ridden by Graham Lee trained by Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain
A horse that brought one of the biggest, most likeable trainers back into the limelight, Amberleigh House, won the Grand National in 2004 for trainer Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain. Under a great ride from Graham Lee, Amberleigh House got up near the line, much to the delight of his trainer, who was winning the race for a fourth time after winning it three times with Red Rum.
Foaled on May 24, 1992, from early in his career, Amberleigh House always looked to be the ideal horse for the Grand National. He was undoubtedly in the right hands, too, a man who knew what it took to win the race, but one without much recent success and desperate to get back into the big time.
Amberleigh House didn’t just turn up and win the race in his only run, he also showed longevity too by running a total of five times in the big one. He finished the course on three of those occasions, brought down and pulled up in the other two, and placed 3rd in 2003, a year before winning the race.
|2006||Fence 21 - Pulled Up||-||10-9||Graham Lee||Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain|
|2005||10||-||11-3||Graham Lee||Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain|
|2004||1||£348,000||10-10||Graham Lee||Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain|
|2003||3||£66,000||10-4||Graham Lee||Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain|
|2001||Fence 8 - Brought Down||-||10-5||Warren Marston||Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain|
Winner Of The 2004 Grand National
The 2004 Grand National was a wide-open betting heat, with every single runner returned with a double-figure SP, showing that punters and bookmakers really struggled to separate the field. The race lived up to that on the track, with plenty involved, and at the final fence, we saw four horses jump together in with a chance of winning the race.
Unfortunately for his supporters, the well fancied Hedgehunter fell at the final fence when seemingly in with a great chance to win. Elsewhere, Clan Royal and Lord Atterbury were in front of Amberleigh House, but that soon changed. Graham Lee took his mount past Lord Atterbury and then had Clan Royal in his sights.
The leader began to tire up the run in, and to further add to his troubles, started to wander in the closing stages while Amberleigh House was running straight and responding to the urgings of Graham Lee in the saddle.
This was enough to lift him up ahead and over the line in first place. Three lengths was the winning distance in the end, with a further two lengths back to Lord Atterbury in third place.
More than 20 years after the final victory for Red Rum from his three, ‘Ginger’ McCain was back in the Aintree winners enclosure with a Grand National triumph, thanks to Amberleigh House and Graham Lee.
Five Grand National Runs
While people will remember Amberleigh House for his win in 2004, there is also a bigger picture to his great Grand National career, and that was the fact that he ran in the race a total of five times.
His biggest day was in the 2004 race when he won it, but he had another very strong day in 2003 a year earlier when he ran brilliantly to finish third and show that he was more than capable of going close for a few years.
The other time he completed the course was in 2005, when he was trying to defend his title. It wasn’t as good, but still respectable enough, he finished 10th. His other two runs saw him fail to complete, firstly in 2001 when he was brought down and lastly, his final Grand National attempt in 2006 when he was pulled up.
Not only should this horse be celebrated because he was a Grand National winner, but also because he managed to get into the race five times, showing excellent durability, and the quality to compete at the top level for so many years.
Amberleigh House’s Early Years
Amberleigh House started out his career in Ireland under the trainer Michael Hourigan. He began over shorter distances, and during this time in Ireland, he never actually ran over further than 2m4f.
He won a flat race, two hurdle races and three chase races during his time in Ireland. The best of those certainly came over fences, where he won a Grade 2 and Grade 3 contest in Ireland, close to the time when he made the move over the McCain in the UK.
McCain clearly saw his potential as a stayer, in just his fifth run for him, Amberleigh House was in the 2001 Aintree Grand National, and that is where his future would be.
Amberleigh House’s Big Race Wins
Amberleigh House won a total of nine races from his career, which is a very respectable return. He was also very durable, running a total of 72 times in his career when you combine his UK and Irish runs.
In terms of big race wins, the Grand National is the only one that is really of note, though, of course, is one of the biggest races in the world to win. This was his big day in the sun, but not his only notable Aintree success, there was another one, which also came over the Grand National fences.
In November 2001, Amberleigh House won the Becher Chase at Aintree, seen by many as a trial for future Grand National runners, and this would prove to be true for the McCain-trained runner.
Elsewhere, the horse’s only other wins of note came during his time in Ireland. He won a Grade 3 handicap chase at Punchestown and a Grade 2 race at Thurles, both in 2000. The Grand National is what he will be remembered for, proving to be a great winner of the race.