When a son or daughter tries to emulate their parents in the racing world, they face additional pressure to deliver that others don’t have to cope with. If success comes, it is great to see, and Donald McCain Jnr has built up a strong following after succeeding and continuing the McCain name in racing after taking over from his father.
Born on June 13th, 1970, McCain Jnr took over from his father in June 2006. Just eight days into his reign, he found himself in the winner’s enclosure at Newton Abbot, and it was undoubtedly a sign of things to come.
Since then, we’ve seen him have Grade One success and also handicap success in the race that his father is best known for, the Grand National. Ginger McCain trained Red Rum, the only horse to win the Grand National three times, and he won a total of four Grand National titles, with Amberleigh House adding to those three Red Rum victories.
McCain Jnr had his day in 2011 when he finally got his own hands on the Grand National trophy. He did so with Ballabriggs, just his 7th attempt at winning the race, and this horse would go on to have two more attempts, but without success.
Donald McCain Jnr Grand National Wins
- 2011 - Ballabriggs ridden by Jason Maguire
|2023||Minella Trump||15||-||Theo Gillard|
|2015||Corrin Wood||Fence 4 - Pulled Up||-||David Casey|
|2015||Across the Bay||Fence 25 - Pulled Up||-||Henry Brooke|
|2014||Across the Bay||14||-||Henry Brooke|
|2013||Ballabriggs||Fence 24 - Pulled Up||-||Jason Maguire|
|2013||Across the Bay||14||-||Henry Brooke|
|2013||Weird Al||Fence 23 - Pulled Up||-||Timmy Murphy|
|2012||Weird Al||Fence 27 - Fell||-||Timmy Murphy|
|2010||Cloudy Lane||8||£3,145||Jason Maguire|
|2009||Idle Talk||12||-||Brian Harding|
|2009||Cloudy Lane||Fence 15 - Unseated Rider||-||Jason Maguire|
|2008||Idle Talk||14||-||Brian Harding|
|2008||Cloudy Lane||6||£10,640||Jason Maguire|
|2007||Idle Talk||Fence 19 - Fell||-||Jason Maguire|
First Grand National Winner Ballabriggs
When beginning his own training career, there was always going to be pressure on Donald McCain Jnr to win the Grand National after what his dad did in the race. Trying to follow in the footsteps of someone who won the race four times, and also trained the most famous horse associated with the race, was never going to be easy.
Five years after taking over from his father, Donald got his moment in the sun. Ballabriggs was the horse in question, winning the 2011 Grand National, and he was fancied by many, with an SP of 14/1 putting him towards the head of the betting.
Ballabriggs did things the hard way and deserves much credit for that. He was prominent for most of the way and led for a large part of the race. Jockey Jason Maguire gave him a perfect ride, setting the pace and allowing his horse to get a breather throughout when required to make sure he stayed the long-distance trip strongly.
The tactics worked perfectly, and Ballabriggs came home to a victory of two and a half lengths, with Oscar Time back in second place. That horse came with a late challenge, but thanks to Maguire keeping a little in the tank for the closing stages, Ballabriggs was able to keep pulling out a little bit more and repel him.
Following In Dad’s Footsteps
Donald McCain Jnr started out in the racing industry as a rider, though he quickly left that and decided it would be better to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a trainer. During his time as a jockey, McCain Jnr rode 50 winners over jumps, starting at a young age and having his first ride under rules at just 15.
After that period, it was all about training, but McCain Jnr didn’t take the easy route and go straight to his dad, instead, he went to learn the trade elsewhere. This included working under Luca Cumani in Newmarket, followed by time with Oliver Sherwood. In order to enhance his learning, McCain Jnr went to flat trainers during the summer period, and these included Sir Michael Stoute, so he was learning every aspect of the job.
After that, it was time to go home, he became assistant trainer to his dad, and this was how they worked until Ginger McCain retired, handing over the license to his son in 2006. The new regime started at the beginning of June, and Donald had his first winner on the 8th of June, just days after officially taking over.
The Leader Of The North
With trust from those who were with his father, plus his skills on show attracting new people to the yard, Donald McCain Jnr was able to make a great start to his training career, something he has managed to maintain over the years. Success has mainly been with national hunt horses, and this includes being the winning most trainer in a season, not top on prize money, but top in terms of the number of winners trained.
He’s also had success on the flat too, running some of his horses in both codes, and those include Overturn and Ill De Re, who both won the Northumberland Plate and the Chester Cup during their flat careers.
Since taking over the reins from his dad back in 2006, Donald has quickly worked his way up the northern racing ladder, and in terms of numbers and success, he has had periods where he was the most prominent trainer in the north.
Whenever you look at a northern jumps card, you are highly likely to see not only one runner from the McCain yard but multiple. This includes the summer, where some take a break from jump racing, but this yard is one that continues to work hard, having summer jumpers to keep things ticking along, which plays into why the yard is seen as the biggest in the north by many.
Famous Horses Trained By Donald McCain Jnr
Here are some of the more prominent names trained by Donald McCain Jnr in his career.
Ill De Re
Cinders And Ashes