From The Horses Mouth: Five of the Best Grand National Trainer Quotes

Grand National Tips - Fence

It’s Grand National Eve, like a kid before Christmas, the anticipation for the 2017 Grand National is almost unbearable! We have our Grand National tips on the site now as we try to find the winner of the greatest race in the world. Until the race gets underway though, let’s keep ourselves occupied with a look back at Five of the Best Grand National Trainer Quotes.

“I went over to see the horse and the woman who was selling him had the greatest legs I’d ever seen. I’m a great legs man and I couldn’t resist. I came home and let John do the deal.” Ginger McCain on how he came to purchase 2004 winner Amberleigh House

We could fill a series of articles with quotes from the incomparable Ginger McCain, a man for whom the Grand National was the be all and end all of horse racing. Making money as a taxi driver in Southport, McCain was able to afford a few boxes at a small stable located between a Chinese restaurant and a used car lot. Not exactly the most salubrious of surroundings for a Grand National winner to be trained from but as racing fans know, Red Rum was anything but normal as a racehorse. It was more than a quarter of a century later that McCain would join the legendary Fred Rimell as a four time winner of the race with Amberleigh House. The tale of how John Halewood would come to own the horse is now the stuff of legend and fits the legacy of McCain to a tee.

“When he was learning, his gallop was like a baby elephant’s. Even the labrador could go faster” Jenny Pitman on 1983 winner Corbiere

While Fred Rimell was affectionately referred to as ‘Mr Grand National,’ it was Pitman who was monikered  the Queen of the Grand National. In 1983 she became the first woman to train the winner of the world’s most famous race with Corbiere. While she was well known for her lack of patience with humans, horses were a different matter. Her care and devotion would regularly get more out of horses than they were generally capable of. Pitman would continue to knock on the Grand National door, Garrison Savannah agonisingly picked up on the run-in by Seagram in 1989 before Esha Ness landed the race that never was in 1993 under the inconsolable John White. It was in 1995 when the fragile veteran Royal Athlete won the contest that a second win in the big one was finally gained and not out of turn for one of the greatest characters we have seen in the game. The 1983 Grand National is below, watch the horse that the Labradors beat triumph!

“Gay Trip was the best of our National winners. He won in 1970 and was second two years later carrying top weight, giving the thing that beat him, Well To Do, 21 pounds. He should have won again. He went five miles instead of four-and-a-half.” Mercy Rimell still hasn’t forgiven Terry Biddlecombe for his wide course in the 1972 race

As the old saying goes, behind every good man is a good woman. Behind the legendary four time Grand National winning trainer was his wife Mercy, always opinionated and fearsome, she rode work every day and knew the horses like the back of her hand. In 1981 after the death of her husband, she would take over the licence in her own name training the winner of the 1983 Champion Hurdle, Gaye Brief. From the same damline came Simon, would run in back to back Nationals for Rimell, travelling strongly in both 2007 and 2008 before finding Valentine’s Brook the second time round getting in his way both times. It was not to be the fairytale that so many racing fans were looking for on that occasion. Her colours are still seen in action even now, carried by dour stayer, Barton Gift who she owns with her granddaughter Kate Ive though sadly not rated highly enough to see those colours around the Grand National fences one more time. She showed her not to be messed with side many times, no less so than in her criticism of Terry Biddlecombe who she believed cost Gay Trip a repeat win in the 1972 race. Watch the 1972 Grand National below and make the decision for yourself.

“It’s fantastic — I never dreamed this. David [Casey] gave him a fantastic ride last year and we learnt so much from what he told us.” Willie Mullins after Hedgehunter claimed victory

The man who has had the Cheltenham Festival as his own personal playground the last few years did not always have the best of equine to go to war with. Having fallen at the final fence the year before when looking tired, it was lessons learnt from that occasion that allowed the team at Closutton to formulate a plan to win on his next go in he race. While David Casey may not have been able to take the ride, Ruby Walsh was the man who was doing the steering on the second occasion, his insight on this and the others in the string have made him a vital cog in the Mullins machine ever since.

“If Carrie Ford wins the National I’ll bare my backside to the wind, and let everyone kick it.”

We end as we began with the incomparable Ginger McCain. Never afraid of giving his opinion on all things racing whether wanted or not, when asked about Carrie Ford coming out of retirement in an attempt to win a National on Forest Gunner, this was his retort. While like many, seeing a female rider win the greatest race in the world is on the to see list, one can’t help but be thankful for all our sakes that Ford was not able to guide Forest Gunner closer than 5th in the race.

Both Ruby Walsh and Carrie Ford feature in out sister article, Five of the best Grand National Jockey quotes a race that has not only thrown ups some incredible moments down the years but also some of the most memorable quotes that we have heard in our years on the racecourses of the UK and Ireland!

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