Within two days, British racing lost two of its finest and best loved former trainers with the deaths of Ginger McCain on Monday and Michael Jarvis on Tuesday.
Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain, 80, was synonymous with the Grand National and Aintree, chiefly through his three-time winner Red Rum, who ran in the race five times, winning in 1973, 1974 and 1977, and finishing second in 1975 and 1976. McCain also won a fourth Grand National in 2004 with Amberleigh House.
Famously outspoken, and critical of what he considered to be unnecessary modifications to his beloved race, McCain was present at Aintree in April to see his son Donald win the race with Ballabriggs.
Through his success with Red Rum, Ginger McCain brought the sport of horseracing to a wider audience and was instrumental in reviving the fortunes of the world’s most famous steeplechase. News of his death on Monday was not restricted solely to the sports pages, illustrating the regard in which he was still held by the general public more than thirty years after Red Rum ran his final race.
Michael Jarvis, who died on Tuesday at the age of 73, started his racing career as a jump jockey but it was on the Flat that he became famous as one of the country’s leading trainers. Among his many notable successes, he won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1989 with Carroll House, the Prix du Jockey-Club in 2000 with Holding Court, while Ameerat and Eswarah triumphed in the domestic fillies’ Classics, the 1,000 Guineas and the Oaks, in 2001 and 2005.
Having led up the 1966 Derby winner Charlottown when employed by Gordon Smyth, Jarvis came closest to winning the race as a trainer with Hala Bek, who swerved dramatically half a furlong from home with the race seemingly at his mercy and eventually finished fourth behind Sir Percy, beaten a head and two short-heads.
Jarvis rated the talented but quirky Rakti as the best horse he trained. The son of Polish Precedent won four Group 1 races under his care: the Champion Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Prince of Wales’s Stakes and Lockinge Stakes.
Widely respected by both racing fans and his fellow professionals, Michael Jarvis relinquished his training licence in February of this year owing to failing health. He was succeeded at Newmarket’s Kremlin House Stables by his long-time assistant Roger Varian, who continues to work alongside Jarvis’s wife Gay.