The 2011 Grand National went to the North, with the Donald McCain Jr trained Ballabriggs taking the race.
This was a first national victory for McCain Jr, but it is a race that he knows very well, his father was Ginger McCain, a trainer who won this race four times, so to follow in his footsteps will no doubt have been emotional for the younger McCain.
The race was run at a very fast pace, providing a strong test of stamina. Despite ground of good, good to soft in places, we saw the second-fastest time from the winner of all time, showing just how impressive Ballabriggs was on the day.
Unfortunately, the race drew attention due to animal welfare issues after two horses suffered a fatal fall in the race. After the 2011 Grand National had been completed, an inquiry was ordered into the race which led to several changes, all of which were implemented in 2012.
What Happened In The 2011 Grand National?
40 runners went to post for the 2011 Grand National, and these were the original 40 declared for the race, with no reserves used. The Midnight Club was sent off as the 15/2 favourite for the race for Irish duo Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, he completed the course and came home in 6th place.
The winner Ballabriggs deserves a ton of credit, not only for winning the race but for the nature of his win. A winning distance of two and a half lengths doesn’t really tell the full story, this horse led for most of the race, did it the hard way, and even had to repel a late challenger in the closing stages, but dug deep to do it.
19 runners completed the course, the highest number to do so since 2005, but the race was marred by two deaths. Ornais suffered a fatal fall at the fourth fence during the race and Dooneys Gate suffered the same fate at the sixth fence. After pressure mounting over the years, these two deaths were the final straw and forced Aintree into improving the safety of the race, something they did after this contest.
2010 winner Don’t Push It was unable to repeat that feat here, although he did give AP McCoy a great ride and eventually placed by finishing 3rd and just over 14 lengths behind the winner. Another horse to mention is State of Play. He’s become a bit of a Grand National favourite, finishing fourth here and that was the third successive race in which he has been able to finish in the top four, showing incredible consistency and durability.
Like Father Like Son
Following in the footsteps of his father, Donald ‘Ginger’ Mccain, Donald McCain Jr took the Grand National in 2011. This is a race that has been important to the yard for many years, with Ginger winning it four times, and many owners in the yard looking to buy horses with the race in mind.
Without having to wait too long for it, Donald Jr managed to get the monkey of a National win off his back, so he could concentrate on the rest of his training career.
The Last Grand National As We Know It
The safety of those taking part in the race was again brought into question after the contest, and 2011 will go down as being the last time the Grand National was a real test for horses. Two deaths on the track led to an inquiry in the months that followed this race, which ultimately led to several track changes and modifications being made ahead of the 2012 race.
The course was made easier, jumps were lowered, landing positions made easier, and all of these brought the race into the modern-day, taking away much of the fear factor that surrounded it.
Moments Of Note
- Ballabriggs won the contest for the North, the first Northern trained runner since Amerleigh House back in 2004
- He was trained by Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain, the father of this year’s winning trainer, Donald McCain Jr
- For many people, this is classed as the last great Grand National, before safety changes were brought in to really change the course and the fences that are taken
- The winning time of the race was recorded at nine minutes and 1.2 seconds, which makes it the second-fastest time in Grand National history