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Red Rum and the Grand National

Red Rum is without a doubt the most famous racehorse of all time and arguably the most famous horse ever. He was the first and only horse to have won the Grand National three times, in 1973, 1974 and 1977, finishing second in the two intervening years of 1975 and 1976.

His first win in 1973 came from second place at the last fence, ridden by jockey Brian Fletcher he made up an incredible 15 lengths over the final stretch to win by three-quarters of a length and in a record breaking time that had stood since 1934. That first win is seen as one of the greatest Grand Nationals in history yet his third win, under jockey Tommy Stack came incredibly close with what felt like the whole nation willing Red Rum to take the finish line for that record third time.

Red Rum might have made it 4 wins but the day before the 1978 race he came up lame and was withdrawn. The injury was identified as a hairline fracture and Red Rum was officially retired.

Red Rum’s retirement was not to be just quiet days trotting around a field though, he was now a national celebrity, opening supermarkets, appearing on numerous gift items from playing cards to plates and leading the Grand National parade for several years. A children’s story was even written about him by Christine Pemberton and in 1988 a life-size bronze of Red Rum, produced by former jockey Philip Blacker, was erected at Aintree Racecourse.

Red Rum was bred at the Rossenarra stud in Ireland, but only started to show his real capability when Ginger McCain bought him for his client Noel le Mare and started training Red Rum on Southport beach. Red Rum was found to be suffering from pedal osteitisat, an inflammatory bone disorder in the forfeet and McCain thought training him in sea water might help. The results proved to be truly remarkable.

McCain later won the Grand National again in 2004 with Amberleigh House, bringing Ginger McCain a shared record of four Grand National winners along with just two others, George Dockeray and Fred Rimell.

Red Rum died on 18 October 1995, aged 30, yet even 19 years after his third National victory his fame made the front pages of national newspapers.

He was buried at the winning post of the Aintree Racecourse and the epitaph reads “Respect this place / this hallowed ground / a legend here / his rest has found / his feet would fly / our spirits soar / he earned our love for evermore”.

Red Rum’s famous trainer, Ginger McCain, passed away on September 19, 2011, two days before his 81st birthday, and a bronze portrait bust has since been erected at Aintree to honour him too.

2013 marks the 40th anniversary of Red Rum’s first Grand National win. His legendary feats are not expected to be equaled, let alone beaten but even if that unlikely event did occur, Red Rum’s legendary status is absolutely guaranteed.

Neil Maycock writes articles for Grandnational.me.uk provider of Grand National tips and upto date information on runners. 

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