Wednesday 7 November 2018

Amberleigh House Gallops from the Shadows for Ginger McCain

The already widely adored Red Rum trainer – Ginger McCain - was again relishing rare accolades, after his gallant Amberleigh House catapulted him to a fourth Grand National victory at Liverpool’s Aintree Racecourse in 2004. The visibly ageing horseman had shot to sudden ├ęclat in the sorely competitive 1970s.

These were McCain’s inordinately successful bouts which he might have been considering as practically gone heydays that would never be replaced. But these little doubts swiftly vanished when Amberleigh bagged him an extra medal…thus effectively adding another medal to his three previous National titles.

And, probably just to remind his anonymous critics that he still was that unbeatable racetrack giant of the fruitful yesteryears, the master equine handler grew unboundedly ecstatic as his glamorous horse emerged first. In a striking manner akin to the proverbial ill luck that purportedly hardly comes singly, McCain’s lofty fortune didn’t profit a single man – it was Graham Lee’s extraordinary moment, too…the history-making chap who steered the unstoppable victor to a dazzlingly excellent finish, ending up as that April’s most illustrious jockey!

It sounds like the whole affair comprised a series of sheer miracles. Watchers who witnessed the gripping clash collectively agree that the 16-1 short apparently jolted out of the middling clutter in a blinding jiffy, and momentarily collared Clan Royal by a record three-length distance! An even worse-ranked initially – the 40-1-odds Lord Atterbury –defied punters’ best wagers by coming third, by a solid two lengths, as well! It was an actually surprise-defined race, held on that unforgettable 3rd of April, 2004.

Clearly not left out of the fat catalogue of occasion’s never-ending wonders (or flukes, whatever you opt to call this kind of weird thing), a recent champion named Monty Pass stayed true to his starting tempo and his unyielding resilience earned him a distinct fourth position…quite belying the 20-1 odds initially assigned him by unsuspicious bookmakers who just couldn’t envision Amberleigh’s forthcoming shocker!

The great sporting hour may have not been as inspiring for one fairly well-known David Casey, whose suddenly overtired mount suddenly crashed to the turf. Hedgehunter wasn’t in any fit shape to bring his unfortunate rider much glory that round, either. Casey must have been ruing this certainly off-putting early exist, when the strangely untiring Graham Lee and Amberleigh House simultaneously shot onto the hectic horizon, amid ear-deafening cheers and the soaring gun-blazing chants heralding their colossal success.

The familiar die had by now been cast to yield flawless honours for diligent Lee, by the look of things. Liam Cooper and Clan Royal had put up a truly admirable fight throughout the spirited trail, though. In fact, it’s been correctly remarked that the number-two contender executed a couple of near-perfect theatrics, many of these worthy manoeuvres being clearly evidenced at sundry junctures close to the end of the long, tortuous circuit.

For instance, Cooper desperately tried to ‘manually’ coax great mount in a trademark less panicky fashion, some few strides toward the track’s stop…having shortly lost his whip someplace within the monumentally testing course. This came out as a historically stunning effort with incredibly good results, happily. And although the would-be titleholder fell three lengths short of the ultimate jackpot, grateful posterity will definitely not take for granted this marvellous display of unparalleled horseracing talent.

When reached for media comments moments after this proud accomplishment, McCain, then 73, said that he actually felt too advanced in years for such rare sporting honours. The April day’s breathtaking sensation notwithstanding, the globally admired idol will live to remember more commendable wins of earlier times – his Red Rum’s terrific performance that had enchanted equine-gaming fans 27 years before, for example.

Senior McCain also disclosed his pre-match doubts as to whether Graham Lee’s real sportsmanlike potential would offer much that seemingly bootless season. The iconic equine enthusiast modestly confiding the truth that he hadn’t really looked forward to such a splendid result…even though he well knew that there was a little embarrassment to expect from the hardworking jockey’s steely determination. And with enough shining laurels to his belt as a thrice-winning trainer, he supposedly hadn’t seen a fourth title coming his humble way.

Further, on Amberleigh’s commendable achievement, the experienced racecourse doyen described the triumphant horse as a thoroughly “professional” and “positive” runner…philosophizing that the phenomenal triumph was an indeed well-deserved international milestone after a long, patiently-borne phase of intensive racetrack instruction.

Elsewhere, worldwide sports paparazzi caught an overexcited Lee relishing a thrilling armchair ride in celebration of the praiseworthy milestone just accomplished. The charming jockey extolled his newly garlanded ride for the “faultless gallop” he’d kept throughout the notoriously treacherous circuit.

For a brief upshot of the day’s most noteworthy happenings, Graham Lee and Amberleigh House won the race by a notable distance of three lengths, spiritedly tailed by Liam Cooper’s Clan Royal. The third slot went to Lord Atterbury – ridden by Mark Bradburne, a hard-trying 40-1 pair who shattered limiting odds to earn themselves a memorable name in the proud English racing fraternity.

Monty’s Pass and Barry Geraghty came fourth, while Spot Thedifference finished in the fifth place. The mighty annual clash featured the usual field of 40 competitors. Some of the prominent non-finishers comprised David Casey’s Hedgehunter and Takagi’s ill-fated run that officially removed Davy Russell’s name from the day’s golden list. The great event’s cumulative prize monies totalled £600,000, with the overall champion getting a glittering £348,000.

Comment if you bet on this winner.