Ballabriggs Grand National Wins
- 2011 - ridden by Jason Maguire trained by Donald McCain Jnr
The ability to keep coming back time and time again to run in the Grand National is something that is rare to see. However, the Donald McCain Jr trained Ballabriggs certainly did have the ability to do that. He ran in the race a total of three times, winning in 2011 before finishing 6th in 2012 and pulling up in what would be his last career race in 2013.
Foaled on April 20th, 2001, Ballabriggs retired from racing at 12-years-old following his run in the 2013 Grand National. When he won in 2011, it was the biggest win of his career, and also the final win, he wasn’t able to get back into the winners’ enclosure after that.
Speaking of the winners’ enclosure, due to the very hot weather on the day of his victory, Ballabriggs became the only horse to ever win the race but not go back to the winners’ enclosure to receive a reception from the crowd. Instead, he was sent straight back to the stables for checking over, where he required oxygen, and his rider Jason Maguire walked into the winners’ enclosure alone.
|2013||Fence 24 - Pulled Up||-||11-4||Jason Maguire||Donald McCain Jnr|
|2012||6||£12,870||11-9||Jason Maguire||Donald McCain Jnr|
|2011||1||£535,135||11-00||Jason Maguire||Donald McCain Jnr|
Winner Of The 2011 Grand National
The 2011 Grand National will be remembered by some people as being one fought out in unusually warm April weather. For this reason, extra caution was taken with horses before and after, and this led to Ballabriggs not going into the winners’ enclosure after the contest.
The horse was trained with the Grand National in mind. We saw him twice over hurdles, to protect his handicap mark and then eventually over fences at Kelso after the weights for the race had been finalised. This proved to be a masterstroke from McCain Jr, the horse was 10lb higher than when winning a Cheltenham Festival handicap a year before.
As for the race itself, Ballabriggs was towards the front for the entire race, in a prominent position and allowed to dictate. This gave Maguire a chance to slow the pace down and give his horse a rest when needed. He certainly needed those moments at the end, with Oscar Time challenging strongly under Sam Waley-Cohen.
From the front, he jumped excellently, and much credit must go to his jockey Jason Maguire, who was excellent aboard, looking after the horse and making sure he had something left in the tank for the closing stages.
Ballabriggs’ Early Years
Ballabriggs started with a very low key racing career, and went 11 races without a win, before that finally happened in a chase contest at Bangor in March 2008. Unfortunately, he was out for a year not long after that, but this was the gap he needed to strengthen and really come into his own, he was much better when he came back.
In a spell between December 2009 and April 2011, he ran eight times, won six including the Grand National and the Kim Muir handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and finished second and third in the other two races he ran in.
It was during this period that his career really took off, before this he struggled in his early years, and after the Grand National win, he didn’t win another race as he moved into the veteran stage of his career.
Ballabriggs’ Big Race Wins
From the seven career wins of Ballabriggs, five came in pretty low-grade contests, with two big days out at the two biggest meetings in the UK jump racing calendar.
His first came at the Cheltenham Festival, where he won the Kim Muir handicap chase in March 2010. He won the race by half a length but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Again, we saw him be close to the pace and he was clear by 10 lengths approaching the closing stages. A bad jump and tiredness almost cost him the race, but he was able to hang on.
The second day of glory for this horse on the big stage was of course 12 months later in the 2011 Grand National at Aintree. Just like at Cheltenham, he ran from the front and dictated the race to come out on top, it was his final win and the biggest of his career by some distance.