Friday 31 August 2018

Like Father Like Son, McCain Ballabriggs Wins 2011 National

On 9 April 2011, there was a thorough sense of bafflement across the restless sidelines as the Donald McCain-trained Ballabriggs dashingly cruised past spirited challengers to claim the year’s Grand National title. Also referred to as the John Smith’s Grand National in honor of the proud sponsors, this was actually the 164th edition of the globally famous race, customarily held at Aintree Racecourse, situated near Liverpool in England. 

The centrepiece steeplechase began at 4:15 pm BST and was ultimately won by the accomplished jockey Jason Maguire. Indeed, the exemplary success fronted an interesting like-father-like-son circumstance…because the winning horse, Ballabriggs, had been trained by a son of the unbeaten Irish trainer Ginger McCain. One of the senior McCain’s numerous record-setters, the thrice-winning Red Rum, is a universally recognized runner with three Grand National victories! 

A regular total of forty contenders fought for the historic cash award of £950,000 – United Kingdom’s largest jackpot ever availed for any National Hunt racing match. Incidentally, an estimable 19 of the pairs successfully covered the 4½-mile track; with the remaining 21 faltering in some way or other, and, with two terminally fatal falls happening within the opening circuit. The upsetting fatalities at once reignited simmering debates among analysts and opinion-leading fans across the whole horse-riding fraternity who’d earlier decried the whole precariousness surrounding the year-after-year event’s safety. 

All in all, it’s the Irish-bred champion, Ballabriggs, who elicited the most wide-ranging responses from thousands of noticeably stupefied admirers, scores overexcited commentators airing the events, hundreds of camera-wielding paparazzi and agitated sports news hunters swiftly milling around the finishing area. Apart from going home with the unprecedented cash reward of £535,135, the even more creditable Jason Maguire thankfully conferred a first-ever National victory to the Jr. McCain, who seemed seriously out to replicate his four-time triumphing dad.

It was also a greatly encouraging milestone for not only Jockey Jason Maguire but also an exceedingly wonderful accomplishment for the immeasurably proud Ballabriggs owner Trevor Hemmings, whose 10-year-old “rookie” had been firstly tipped at odds of 14/1. The dominant brace covered the traditionally designated course in an almost absolutely unwitnessed timing of 9 minutes and 1.2 seconds! This literally supersonic performance efficiently established a admirable slot for Maguire and his chivalrous mount, as it’s the 2nd-fastest the second-fastest timing in the entire Grand National history! 

Equine games fans who had watched this popular sport for a remarkable period collectively witnessed a rather familial familiarity, as the younger McCain’s resounding deed quickly revived memories of his more experienced father’s shinier exploits at the same venue. Despite the déjà vu exhilaration consequent to the upcoming icon’s impenetrable finish, larger focus quite inevitably shifted to the disquieting mid-track demises: Dooneys Gate(trained by Willie Mullins) and Ornais(coached by Paul Nicholls). 

As a result of the encumbering fatalities, a number of fences were bypassed for the very first instance in the whole annals of the monumental showdown’s vibrantly variegated history. Furthermore, there was a roughly edifying spectacle, given that Oscar Time happened to be the only one out of the top four finishers to safely make it to the unsaddling area. 

After a Herculean dash in the intolerably searing heat, reading well over 19 degrees, the new title holder and Don’t Push It (third place) suffered dreadful fits apparently attributable to the acute dehydration that left them chiefly immobile. Countless bucketfuls were subsequently emptied on the miserably dehydrated beasts…perhaps also sending adverse signals to millions of worldwide sympathizers who have long argued that the yearly affair could be a violation of innocent animals’ general wellbeing. 

Having come so promisingly close to touching distance in a Champion Hurdle challenge with Peddler Cross about a month before, McCain Jnr had abundantly issued strong clues that he was now one of Britain’s most robust talents. Talking to press in the contest’s awe-inspiring aftermath, the relatively tender-aged trainer calculatingly cautioned those who incorrectly thought it was easy to attain a Grand National title. He categorically told naïve assumers that it definitely took a lot of untiring effort to fruitfully prepare a National winner. Nevertheless, the newly confirmed scion of the award-decorated McCain dynasty happily reiterated that he individually viewed horse-training as a profoundly pleasurable undertaking.

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