Not since Red Rum in 1974 has a horse managed to successfully retain a Grand National crown, but Donald McCain is hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps by saddling Ballabriggs to a second success in the Aintree showpiece.
Ginger McCain’s name is guaranteed in horse racing folklore given Red Rum’s three Grand National victories and son Donald is en route to making a legacy of his own.
Horses like Peddlers Cross, Weird Al and Overturn all look capable of winning lucrative races in the future, but it is Ballabriggs that certainly represents the best chance of overall glory.
His victory in the Grand National in April was not a major shock and the horse looked tailor made for the demands of the Aintree obstacles.
If Ballabriggs jumps and travels in the same manner again, he could make a mockery of his current Grand National odds of 16/1 to triumph.
The Grand National is the obvious aim for the horse in 2012 and McCain has targeted the same build up as 12 months ago to prepare the horse for Aintree.
Therefore, Ballabriggs is set to return to Kelso in March in what will be his seasonal reappearance to shake off any winter cobwebs.
McCain said: “We are working back from Aintree with Ballabriggs and he will probably go to Kelso again.
“If he runs before then I wouldn’t know. The whole season is geared around one day. He is cantering away fine. He looks great and I am very happy with him.”
The obvious negative for Ballabriggs is that he may be treated harshly by the handicapper and he is certain to run off substantially more than the 11st that he carried to success last year and maybe even off top weight of all of the 40 Grand National 2012 runners.
Hedgehunter and Don’t Push It are examples of horses in the past decade to have failed in their bids to win back-to-back Grand Nationals with the added weight burden, but did finish in the each-way money.