As a child, I remember sitting with my dad looking through the newspaper picking a horse in the Grand National. Choosing a name was the only method of picking a Grand National winner and I remember clearly choosing Red Rum. My dad then hot footed to the local betting shop to part with his cash with the hope of winning a few pounds back. Imagine my delight sitting watching with all my family back in 1977 on TV with a twisted metal ariel, watching this super horse gallop over the finishing line listening to the excited commentator! Red Rum was a star and a complete legend in my eyes where at the age of seven, my love for horses had truly begun.
Red Rum was bred at Rossenarra stud in County Kilkenny, Ireland, by Martyn McEnery. Bred to win one-mile races, he won his National titles over the longest distance, four miles and four furlongs. “Rummy” started off in life running in cheap races as a sprinter and dead-heated in a five-furlong flat race at Aintree Racecourse. In his early career, he was once ridden by Lester Piggott, and comedian Lee Mack, then a stable boy who had his first riding lesson on Red Rum. After being passed from training yard to training yard, he was bought by Ginger McCain (for 6,000 guineas) in 1972 who bought him for his client Noel le Mare.
Red Rum has a diseased foot and was seen in these early days of his training cantering through the sea waters on Southport beach which proved to be a huge success. This led to Red Rum running in his first Grand National in 1973, where Crisp, a gallant champion chaser, led the race until Red Rum beat him by ten strides winning the coveted title! Twelve months later, Red Rum won the National again.
He was put into the Grand National the following two years coming second. Ginger McCain never lost faith in this super horse and believed he would be a winner again.
So, in 1977 Red Rum won his third Grand National. The race will be remembered for producing just about the most famous piece of televised sports commentary ever. As Red Rum stormed past the winning post, Peter O’Sullevan described the moment with the words: “Its hats off and a tremendous reception, you’ve heard one like it at Liverpool…and Red Rum wins the National!”
Red Rum was hoping to run the 1978 Grand National but a minor injury meant he missed the race and Ginger McCain immediately retired his pride and joy. Red Rum died in 1995 and is buried at the winning post at Aintree the scene of the most wonderful achievement in racing history across the globe and where he is a legend.
by Samantha Hobden
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