Amberleigh House, the horse who won the 2004 Grand National for Ginger McCain 27 years after Red Rum’s final victory in the race, has died aged 25.
The son of Buckskin, who was the last 12-year-old to win the big race at Aintree, suffered complications following colic surgery.
The late Ginger McCain bought Amberleigh House for £75,000 having spotted him when he won at Punchestown Festival in 2000 for trainer Michael Hourigan.
“He stood at only 15.2hh, there was very little of him but as soon as you put a saddle on him he just grew,” said racehorse trainer and Ginger’s son, Donald McCain.
“When dad saw him at Punchestown he could tell he loved his job. He was the most exceptional jumper — he had more scope than any chaser, he could take off from outside the wings and land the same distance away the other side.
“After retiring [in 2006], he spent a good few years at the National Stud, which gave visitors a chance to go and give him a stroke,” he told H&H.
“He really was a wonderful horse and a family horse for us — I assisted my dad with the training of him and my wife looked after him at home and led him up at the races.”
Amberleigh House relished the National fences and ran 11 times at the course, running in the Grand National five times — winning once and finishing third — and he also won and finished second twice in the Becher Chase over the big fences.
Over recent years, he had been enjoying his retirement with racehorse trainer Lisa Williamson, whose family owned the gelding, and had paraded at Aintree on Grand National day this year (8 April).
“He had been full of beans following the parade but was struck down with colic on Good Friday (14 April), I spent three hours with him and we [and the vets] did everything we could to try and save him,” said Lisa.
“He was such an intelligent horse, he knew when it was a rehearsal and when it was the real thing. Ahead of the Grand National, he visited the poorly children at Alder Hey Hospital and he was incredible, he just knew how to behave.”
Jump-turned-Flat jockey Gaham Lee, who partnered Amberleigh House in four Grand Nationals and the diminutive gelding provided him with undoubtedly his finest moment in the saddle, described him as “a very special and brave little horse”.