Donald McCain was keen to pay tribute to his staff after becoming the first trainer in Britain to claim 100 winners this season at Newcastle today.
It is over a decade since the Cholmondeley handler first reached the century — ending the 2010/11 campaign with 100 winners exactly.
He went on to saddle 153, 141 and 142 winners respectively in the next three seasons, but recent years have been more of a struggle after losing more than 50 horses following a split with prominent owners Paul and Clare Rooney in 2015.
However, with former champion jockey Brian Hughes a key part of the team, the Grand National and Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer has enjoyed a genuine resurgence this term — as evidenced by the fact he has pipped multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls to the century by one.
McCain said: “In my back of my mind at the start of the season I thought it would be lovely to get somewhere near to it, but there’s been no great plan. It’s just lovely to do it.
“It’s a great fillip for the yard. I can’t tell you how hard everyone’s working and most of these people have been with me through everything else — owners and staff and jockeys etc.
“The horses have been in great form since we started back. As I’ve said, there was no great plan to try to train a lot of winners, but they’ve kept winning and all of sudden we’ve arrived where we are.
“Any season you can train 100 winners is a good season and it’s credit to everyone that works here. You surround yourself with good people and hopefully good things will happen.”
Despite being McCain’s only runner at Newcastle, Cenotice was a largely unconsidered 12-1 shot for the DFE Electrical Handicap Chase.
The eight-year-old looked booked for minor honours on the run-in, but dug deep for conditional jockey Theo Gillard to prevail by a nose and the same from Treshnish and Gallic Geordie.
McCain added: “I think it’s our fastest 100. I remember the year we had our most winners (153 in 2011/12) we did it with a four-timer at the Haydock meeting this coming Saturday.
“We’d had a good few seconds in the last few days and I was sort of resigned to the fact it wasn’t going to happen, but we took this horse to Newcastle and knew he had a chance.
“I thought we might have been beaten on the line, to be honest. I was thinking ‘we’ve come so close, but what a great finish to be involved in’.
“And then they showed the slow motion and I thought it was a possibility that we’d held on and thankfully we had, which is great.”