GRAND National legend Ginger McCain has thrown down the gauntlet to Cheshire rival Carrie Ford three weeks before the big race in Liverpool.
Cholmondeley-based Ginger, veteran trainer of three-time winner Red Rum and last year's champion Amberleigh House, told the 33-year-old Little Budworth rider of Forest Gunner that she had virtually no chance of becoming the first woman to win the race.
He saddles Amberleigh House again in the world's greatest steeplechase on April 9 but doesn't expect much competition for the crown from Carrie, whose husband Richard trains Forest Gunner.
He said: 'Horses do not win Grand Nationals ridden by women, that's a fact.
'Carrie is a grand lass but she is a broodmare now. Having kids does not get you fit to ride Grand Nationals.
'Good luck to her. They have a very good horse, there's no question of that.
'It is possible that Carrie Ford and Forest Gunner could win, but I can't see it.
'To go four-and-a-half miles around Aintree, you have to be a top-class professional. Going around in hunter chases and hurdle races is no comparison. So we will discount Forest Gunner.' Ginger wasn't available but a spokesperson for the Bank House Farm stable was keen to play down his comments.
She said: 'This has been blown up out of all proportion.
'Carrie is a friend and Mr McCain's comments were meant to be lighthearted.'
Carrie, who rode Forest Gunner around Aintree in a two-mile gallop last week, was unfazed by McCain's remarks.
She said: 'It didn't come as a surprise to me. I know Ginger very well and I would like to think his comments were a bit tongue-in-cheek. I am not offended.
'It has just made me more determined to do well in the race.'