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  Friday, 29 March, 2002, 08:15 GMT
McCain's Aintree ambition
Ginger McCain has high hopes for Amberleigh House
McCain with his National contender Amberleigh House
By BBC Sport Online's Sophie Brown

Ginger McCain has high hopes that Amberleigh House can win the Grand National - 25 years after the trainer last had success in the Aintree event.

McCain will always be associated with Red Rum, who racked up a record three wins and two second places in the world's most famous steeplechase between 1973 and 1977.

Since then, the trainer's best result has been 14th with only three of his runners even managing to get round the course.

But McCain is confident that Amberleigh House is good enough not just to finish but even to win this year.

Before the big race on 6 April, he needs a bit of luck as the National is heavily oversubscribed.

I wouldn't swap his chances for anything
Ginger McCain

And the lowly-weighted Amberleigh House needs several withdrawals before Thursday's declarations stage to be in the top 40 who make the final field.

The 10-year-old made his debut in the Aintree feature in 2001 and was going well until he was brought down in the pile-up at the Canal Turn.

The horse furthered his credentials by winning the Tote Becher Chase (run over the National fences) earlier this season.

"He was virtually foot-perfect round the course (in the Becher Chase)," McCain told BBC Sport Online.

"He's won over three miles three furlongs and he's won it going away.

"And he had been going awfully well in the previous (Grand National) race when he was knocked over.

"It looks like he could be what you call an Aintree horse - I think the Aintree part of racing in that chase is coming back.

"You used to always have what you call an Aintree horse which was a horse which went to Aintree and jumped well round there because the fences are different - each one presents a different challenge."

Ideal build-up

Amberleigh House will be ridden by regular partner Warren Marston in the Grand National.

Marston was also in the saddle for the horse's final prep race on 1 March at Newbury when he finished fifth, 19 lengths behind Carrick Troop in the TFM Cyntergy Chase over two miles and one furlong.

"That was very satisfying indeed, exactly what we wanted," McCain said after the race.

"I wouldn't swap his chances for anything."

As well as being 25 years since Red Rum's record-breaking win, it is also 50 years since McCain had his first winner as a trainer - also at Aintree.

"It seems an awfully long time ago - 1952," he says.

"It was a two-mile selling chase and the first prize was 120."

The Grand National has a habit of throwing up results to delight the romantics.

And what could be more fitting than Red Rum's trainer capturing the Grand National a quarter of a century after the legendary horse won the race for a record-breaking third time?

Trainer Ginger McCain
"I think Amberleigh House has a great chance"
Links to more Grand National 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


Links to more Grand National 2002 stories

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