Who is, or was, the most successful trainer in the history of the Grand National?

In the history of the Grand National, the original ‘Master of Ballydoyle’, Vincent O’Brien, had the distinction of saddling three winners in a row, namely Early Mist, Royal Mist and Quare Times, in 1953, 1954 and 1955, respectively. However, three men have saddled four Grand National winners apiece and are, jointly, the most successful trainers in the history of the Grand National.

In the pioneering days of the Grand National, Epsom-based trainer George Dockeray was the first to achieve the feat when, in 1852, the unfancied 50/1 chance Miss Mowbray, ridden by Mr. Alec Goodman, beat Maurice Daley and Sir Peter Laurie by a length and half a length in the fourteenth renewal of the famous steeplechase. Dockeray had previously trained the winner of three of the first four ‘official runnings of the Grand National, namely Lottery (1839), Jerry (1840) and Gaylad (1842).

Over a century later, Fred Rimmell, a.k.a. ‘Mr. Grand National’, became the second trainer in history to saddle four Grand National winners when Rag Trade beat Red Rum by two lengths in the 1976 renewal. Rimmell, of course, was the trainer who had benefited from the dramatic collapse of Devon Loch in 1956, but aside from E.S.B., whose jockey Dave Dick admitted ‘was a terribly lucky winner’, also saddled Nicolaus Silver (1961) and Gay Trip (1970).

Last, but by no means least, Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain, trainer of Red Rum, who achieved legendary status by winning the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977, finally achieved his fourth win, at the age of 73, in 2004. On that occasion, the twelve-year-old Amberleigh House, ridden by Graham Lee, defeated co-favourite Clan Royal by three lengths.

How many times has Tiger Roll won at the Cheltenham Festival?

At just under 16 hands high, Tiger Roll is small for a steeplechaser and was, in fact, originally bought by owner Michael O’Leary to win the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. However, Tiger Roll proved significantly better than anticipated, winning the Grade One Triumph Hurdle, on just his second start for his new connections, in 2014.

Subsequently, despite his diminutive size, fences have been the making of him. Of course, in April, 2019, he made history by becoming the first horse since Red Rum, in 1974, to win the Grand National two years running, but he also has three further successes at the Cheltenham Festival to his name. He won the National Hunt Chase in 2017 and the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase two years running, in 2018 and 2019, en route to victory in the Grand National.

Still only a nine-year-old, Tiger Roll takes the odd liberty with an obstacle but, although he did once unseat his rider in a novices’ chase at Galway, when bumped by a rival at the second-last fence, he has never fallen. So, while Michael O’Leary has said that Tiger Roll is ‘very unlikely’ to run in the Grand National in 2020, another win in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase – which would be his fifth at the Cheltenham Festival – looks within the realms of possibility.

Which were the only two horses to beat Red Rum in the Grand National?

The cancellation of the 2020 Grand National due to the coronavirus pandemic has put paid, at least temporarily, to any attempt by Tiger Roll to win the celebrated steeplechase three years running. Of course, Red Rum won the National three times, in 1973, 1974 and 1977, but what is, perhaps, less well-remembered is that ‘Rummie’, as he was affectionately known, also finished second in the National in 1975 and 1976 on his only other attempts.

In 1975, despite being sent off 7/2 favourite, Red Rum was denied a third consecutive victory by L’Escargot, trained by Dan Moore and ridden by Tommy Carberry, who won comfortably by 15 lengths. In 1976, Red Rum started at 10/1 and went down by two lengths to Rag Trade, trained by Fred Rimmell and ridden by John Burke.

How many times did Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain win the Grand National?

Of course, the late Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain – who died in 2011, just two days shy of his eighty-first birthday – has his name writ large in the annals of Grand National history as the trainer of the incomparable Red Rum. Nevertheless, ‘Mr. Aintree’, as McCain was affectionately known in his heyday, remained in the training ranks until 2006, when he handed over his licence to his son, Donald Jnr., and, in 2004, won a record-equalling fourth Grand National.

That emotional victory came courtesy of the twelve-year-old Amberleigh House who, according to BBC commentator Jim McGrath, came ‘absolutely flying down the outside’ under jockey Graham Lee to beat joint-favourite Clan Royal by three lengths. Two years previously, Amberleigh House had been balloted out of the Grand National, despite winning the Becher Chase, over 3 miles 3 furlongs on the National Course, the previous November. Nevertheless, despite entering the ‘veteran’ stage of his career, Amberleigh House returned to Aintree to make Ginger McCain just the second trainer, after Fred Rimell, to saddle four Grand National winners.

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