Donald McCain Jnr (Cholmondeley, Cheshire)
Born on June 13, 1970, Donald McCain Jnr is the son of the late Ginger McCain, trainer of the legendary Red Rum, the only horse to win the John Smith’s Grand National three times (1973, 1974 and 1977) and also Amberleigh House, the 2004 victor.
Donald learnt to ride on his sister Joanne’s pony Gambol and rode in his first race on the Flat aged 15 (his father told a few white lies so he could ride) at Haydock Park. He subsequently became a jump jockey, firstly as an amateur and then a professional, partnering around 40 winners under Rules. He rode several times over the Grand National fences, finishing fifth aboard Harley in the 1992 FoxHunters’ Chase and 17th on Sure Metal in the 1996 Grand National.
He also spent time working for trainers Luca Cumani, Sir Michael Stoute and Oliver Sherwood. Donald subsequently became assistant trainer to his father at Bankhouse Stables at Cholmondeley in Cheshire and played a significant role in Amberleigh House’s Grand National victory in 2004.
He was expected to take over the licence from his father at the start of the 2006/7 jump season, but had to wait until June, 2006, before he was able to train in his own name as he needed to complete the appropriate British Horseracing Authority courses.
Donald’s first winner as a licensed trainer came with Bearaway in a handicap chase at Newton Abbot on June 8, 2006. He secured his first Cheltenham Festival triumph with Cloudy Lane in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase in 2007 and enjoyed 40 winners in his first campaign.
In the 2007/08 season, he had 58 successes and a second Cheltenham Festival success with Whiteoak in the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle, while the 2008/09 haul of 62 winners included Cloudy Lane’s victory in the Grade Two Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock Park.
The 2009/10 season brought further success with a double at the Cheltenham Festival thanks to Peddlers Cross in the Neptune Investment Management Novices ‘Hurdle and Ballabriggs in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase, and a career best 88 winners.
Last season, when he reached 100 winner, Peddlers Cross landed the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle and was a gallant runner-up in the Champion Hurdle, while Overturn took the Northumberland Plate on the Flat in June and added the Galway Hurdle a month later.
Overturn has been in even better form this season, winning the Grade Two Ascot Hurdle before gaining his first success at Grade One level in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
McCain is also the trainer of Smithy The Horse, owned by the John Smith’s Racing Partnership which offers John Smith’s drinkers the chance to own a share in a racehorse.
He emulated his father by training a John Smith’s Grand National winner in 2011,with Ballabriggs taking the spoils in good style. This season is going very well, with 93 successes so far.
John Smith’s Grand National Record: 2007 Idle Talk (UR19th); 2008 Cloudy Lane(6th), Idle Talk (14th); 2009 Idle Talk (12th), Cloudy Lane (UR 15th); 2010 Cloudy Lane (8th), 2011 BALLABRIGGS(WON)