19/09/2011 09:55 BST | Updated 19/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Ginger McCain: Legendary Trainer Of Red Rum Dies, Aged 80

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Aintree horse racing legend Ginger McCain, trainer of the great Red Rum, has died aged 80.

McCain saddled Red Rum to win the Grand National three times, in 1973, 1974 and 1977, before winning the Aintree marathon for a fourth time with Amberleigh House in 2004.

McCain's wife Beryl said: "Donald - Ginger as we all knew him - passed away peacefully in his sleep after a short illness this morning - he would have been 81 on Wednesday.

"There will be a private family funeral followed by a later memorial service, for which there will be more information in the coming weeks. Joanne, Donald Jnr and I appreciate all the kindness we are being shown and, at this difficult time, would appreciate it if we were afforded some privacy."

McCain began his training career as a permit holder in 1953 and took out a full licence in 1969 when his stables were behind his car showroom in Southport.

He worked as a taxi driver to supplement his income as a trainer prior to finding Grand National success. It was as a taxi driver that he became acquainted with Noel le Mare for whom he bought Red Rum.

He retired after the 2006 Grand National and handed over the licence to his son Donald, who maintained the family tradition by winning this year's race with Ballabriggs from their base at Cholmondeley in Cheshire.

Former leading National Hunt jockey Mick Fitzgerald, who won the Grand National on Rough Quest in 1996, paid tribute to McCain, saying: "I'm very saddened. He leaves a legacy and every time you think of the Grand National, you think of Ginger. He was the National, to be honest.

"If you ever wanted a controversial quote, you always spoke to Ginger. He was never afraid to speak his mind, he believed in what he was doing and he believed foremost in the Grand National as a race.

"He was a great ambassador for our sport and racing needs characters like him. It's a very sad day for everybody and especially anybody involved with the Grand National. Every time I think of him I smile. The Grand National will forever be remembered as his race."