THE world of horse racing mourned the loss of one of its biggest names this week with the death of legendary Cheshire-based trainer Ginger McCain.
The four-time Grand National winner died at his Cholmondeley home in the early hours of Monday morning, aged 80, following a battle with cancer.
Ginger, who would have turned 81 yesterday, leaves behind his wife of 50 years, Beryl, daughter Joanne and son Donald Jnr.
Donald, who took over from his father at Bankhouse Stables on the Cholmondeley Castle Estate in 2006 and won this year’s Grand National with Ballabriggs, said: “If I can do half as much with my life as he fitted into his I won't have done too bad.
“The whole business has been built up by my dad, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him so it would be great if I could keep the place going.”
Wife Beryl confirmed there will be a public memorial service following the family funeral, although a date is yet to be set.
She said: “Joanne, Donald Jnr and I appreciate all the kindness we are being shown.”
A minute’s silence will be held in memory of Ginger at Chester Racecourse on Saturday.
It will be observed before the first race of what is the final meeting of the season.
Richard Thomas, chief executive of the Chester Race Company Ltd, said: “He was a fantastic friend to both Chester and Bangor-on-Dee, we’ll miss him terribly.
“He was a real character, larger than life. His knowledge was second to none.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Mike Jones said Ginger had made a huge contribution to the county and backed the idea of having a memorial in his honour in Cholmondeley if sponsors could fund it.
“We would certainly try and facilitate something if sponsors could be found,” he explained.
“Cheshire is now the third most important equine sector in the UK and that is largely down to the significant support from Ginger McCain. He was a very nice chap and will be sadly missed.”
Ian and Tracy Williams, who own Ginger’s favourite local The Bickerton Poacher where he celebrated Ballabriggs’ Grand National win back in April, described him as a ‘true character’.
They said: “It has been a privilege and an honour to have been associated with such a sporting legend.
“We in the Poacher will always preserve the memories of his moments and achievements.”