Red Rum (3 May 1965 – 18 October 1995) was an Irish champion Thoroughbred steeplechaser. He achieved an unmatched historic treble when he won the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977, and also came second in the two intervening years, 1975 and 1976. The Grand National is a notoriously difficult race that has been described as "the ultimate test of a horse’s courage".[2] He was also renowned for his jumping ability, having not fallen in 100 races.[3]

Red Rum
Red Rum at Castle Park, Bristol 1980
Red Rum at Castle Park, Bristol in 1981
DamsireMagic Red
Foaled3 May 1965[1]
BreederMartyn McEnery
OwnerNoel le Mare
TrainerGinger McCain
Record100: 24-15-23
Major wins
Grand National (1973, 1974, 1977)
Scottish National (1974)
Life-size statue at Aintree Racecourse
Smaller bronze statue inside Wayfarers Arcade, Southport
Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree
Last updated on 15 February 2009

The 1973 race in which Red Rum secured his comeback victory from 30 lengths behind is often considered one of the greatest Grand Nationals in history.[4] In a 2002 UK poll, Red Rum's historic third triumph in the Grand National was voted the 24th greatest sporting moment of all time.[5]

Early life edit

Red Rum was bred at Rossenarra stud in Kells, County Kilkenny, Ireland, by Martyn McEnery. His sire was Quorum (1954–1971), and his dam Mared (1958–1976). Mared was a granddaughter of the broodmare Batika, whose other descendants have included the Irish 2000 Guineas winner Turtle Island.[6] McEnery gave Red Rum his name by taking the last three letters of the names of his dam and sire, respectively.[7] Bred to win one-mile races, Red Rum won his National titles over the longest distance, four miles and four furlongs. He started his career running in low-value races as a sprinter and dead-heated in his first race, a five-furlong flat race at Aintree Racecourse.[8] He ran another seven times as a two-year-old, winning over 7f at Warwick, and over the same distance at Doncaster in the first of his two races as a three-year-old. In his early career, he was twice ridden by Lester Piggott.[9] The comedian Lee Mack, then a stable boy, had his first riding lesson on Red Rum.[10]

After being passed from training yard to training yard, he found his footing when Southport car dealer Ginger McCain bought him for his client Noel le Mare and famously trained the horse on the sands at Southport, England.[11] Galloping through sea water may have proved highly beneficial to Red Rum's hooves.[12] McCain reportedly took Red Rum for a therapeutic swim in the sea off Southport before his first National appearances to help treat the horse's pedal osteitis, a debilitating, incurable bone disease in his hoof. McCain also won the Grand National in 2004 with Amberleigh House, 31 years after his first victory with Red Rum.[13]

Grand National record edit

The crowd are willing him home now. The 12-year-old Red Rum, being preceded only by loose horses, being chased by Churchtown Boy... They're coming to the elbow, just a furlong now between Red Rum and his third Grand National triumph! It's hats off and a tremendous reception, you've never heard one like it at Liverpool – Red Rum wins the National!

Commentator Peter O'Sullevan describes the moment Red Rum sealed his third Grand National title[14]

At the 1973 Grand National, Red Rum beat the Australian chaser Crisp, which was carrying 23 pounds more, in a new record time of nine minutes, 1.9 seconds.[15] Crisp led the field virtually all the way in that year's National in which he was 30 lengths clear, and at the last fence was 15 lengths clear of Red Rum, his nearest pursuer. Red Rum and jockey Brian Fletcher, however, made up the ground on the final stretch and, two strides from the finishing post, pipped the tiring Crisp to win by three-quarters of a length in what is often considered one of the greatest Grand Nationals in history.[4] Crisp's jockey Richard Pitman later stated: "I still dream about that race, of Crisp running so strongly and jumping so fearlessly, and then the sound of Red Rum's hooves as he got closer and closer at the end."[16] He added: "I felt as though I was tied to a railway line with an express train thundering up and being unable to jump out of the way."[17]

A year later, Red Rum retained his title at the 1974 Grand National, carrying 12 stone.[18] He followed that with victory in the Scottish Grand National in 1974 at Ayr Racecourse, and remains the only horse to win both in the same season.

Red Rum came second in 1975 and 1976; Tommy Stack replaced Fletcher as jockey in the 1976 race after Fletcher angered trainer Ginger McCain by telling the press the horse no longer felt right after a defeat in a race away from Aintree. Again, Red Rum saved his best for Aintree but was held off by Rag Trade.

The following year, Stack rode the 12-year-old Red Rum to his record third Grand National triumph at the 1977 Grand National, in what is regarded as one of the greatest moments in horse racing history.[13][15]

Retirement edit

Red Rum was prepared for a sixth attempt at the Grand National the season following his 1977 win, but suffered a hairline fracture in the lead up to the 1978 race. Following a canter at Aintree Racecourse the day before the 1978 Grand National he was retired. The news of Red Rum's retirement was the lead story on that night's 9 O'Clock News on BBC1[15] and was also front-page news of the following morning's newspapers.

Red Rum had become a national celebrity, opening supermarkets and annually leading the Grand National parade for many further years. His likeness graced playing cards, mugs, posters, models, paintings, plates and jigsaw puzzles. Several books have been written about Red Rum by his trainer, sculptor, jockeys and author Ivor Herbert; a children's story about his life was also written by Christine Pemberton. The horse helped open the Steeplechase rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 1977. He also switched on the Blackpool Illuminations that year.[19] In 1975, a song entitled "Red Rum" was issued as a tribute to him by a group named Chaser, on Polydor 2058 564. It was written by Steve Jolley, Richard Palmer and Tony Swain. In 2010 the name of the racecourse bar, formerly called "The Sefton", was changed to "The Red Rum".

In 1977 Red Rum appeared as a studio guest at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony. Viewers were delighted when the horse seemed to recognise the voice of his jockey Tommy Stack, who was appearing by video link from another location.[20]

Death and legacy edit

Red Rum's feats, of three Nationals and two seconds, are legendary. They will never be equalled, let alone surpassed. They say records are there to be broken, but Red Rum’s at Aintree is one which will stand the test of time.

—20-time champion jockey Tony McCoy[2]

Red Rum's grave at Aintree

Red Rum died on 18 October 1995, aged 30. His death was one of the lead items in television news bulletins and also made the front pages of national newspapers the next day.[15]

He was buried at the winning post of the Aintree Racecourse, which is still a destination for his fans. The epitaph reads[16]

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

Eleven years after his death, a survey found he remained the best-known racehorse in the UK.[21] When asked to name an equine animal, Red Rum was named by 45% of Britons, with Black Beauty (from Anna Sewell's novel) in second with 33%.[21] In 2002 the UK public voted Red Rum's third Grand National win #24 in the list of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.[5]

Red Rum statue in Southport

In the early 1970s, the future running of the Grand National was uncertain.[2] The emergence of Red Rum and his historic triumphs captivated the nation, and ensured huge public support for the fund to buy Aintree and put it in the hands of the Jockey Club.[2]

On 19 September 2011, Red Rum's trainer Ginger McCain died aged 80.[11]

Grand National record edit

Grand National Position Jockey Age Weight SP Distance
1973 1st Brian Fletcher 8 10–5 9/1 JF Won by ¾ Length
1974 1st Brian Fletcher 9 12–0 11/1
1975 2nd Brian Fletcher 10 12–0 7/2 F
1976 2nd Tommy Stack 11 11–10 10/1
1977 1st Tommy Stack 12 11–8 9/1 JF Won by 25 lengths

Commemorations edit

Sign for Red Rum Close, Fazakerley
  • Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree.
  • There are statues of Red Rum at Aintree Racecourse, in Wayfarers Arcade, Southport and at Ayr Racecourse.[13][22]
  • Merseyrail named one of its trains in Red Rum's honour in 2008 as part of a Merseyside Legends programme.
  • There used to be two pubs named Red Rum.
    • One was next to Aintree Racecourse; it is now a tandoori restaurant.
    • One was in Croxteth, but closed some time in the mid-2000s and was demolished in 2010
  • Southport Fire Station took delivery of an engine they named Red Rum in 1979
  • Red Rum Drive in Ashburn, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. (part of the area referred to as the silicon valley of the east), is named after the famous racehorse, due to the land developer being an avid horse racing fan.
  • Red Rum Close in Fazakerley, Liverpool.
  • Market Rasen Racecourse have a Bar & Lounge named Red Rum
  • A huge mural of Red Rum training on Southport Beach painted by the artist Paul Curtis in 2020 is on a gable wall at the top of Scarisbrick Avenue, Southport by the Promenade.

Pedigree edit

Pedigree of Red Rum (IRE), bay gelding, 1965[1]
Quorum (GB)
Vilmorin (GB)
Gold Bridge Golden Boss
Flying Diadem
Queen of the Meadows Fairway
Queen of the Blues
Akimbo (GB)
Bois Roussel Vatout
Plucky Liege
Bulolo Noble Star
Pussy Willow
Mared (GB)
Magic Red (GB)
Link Boy Pharos
Market Girl
Infra Red Ethnarch
Black Ray
Quinta (GB)
Anwar Umidwar
Batika Blenheim
Brise Bise (Family 25)[6]

See also edit

Notes and references edit

  1. ^ a b "Red Rum pedigree". Archived from the original on 8 April 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Tony McCoy: jump jockeys owe Ginger McCain a huge debt for saving the Grand National". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 9 April 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Race Horse winner". Red Rum Insider. Archived from the original on 29 September 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Legend of Ginger 'Mr Aintree' McCain will live forever". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 March 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  5. ^ a b "100 Greatest Sporting Moments – Results". London: Channel 4. 2002. Archived from the original on 4 February 2002. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Thoroughbred Bloodlines – Brimmer Mare – Family 25". Archived from the original on 26 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  7. ^ "Red Rum remains people's champion". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  8. ^ "The Grand National". Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Reg Green – Grand National Historian". BBC. Archived from the original on 3 July 2021.
  10. ^ "Lily Allen and Friends". BBC. Archived from the original on 14 August 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Red Rum trainer Ginger McCain dies aged 80". 19 September 2011. Archived from the original on 4 May 2021. BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 October 2011
  12. ^ "Car dealer who struck up winning relationship with dodgy-legged horse". The Irish Times. Dublin. ISSN 0791-5144. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  13. ^ a b c "Red Rum – The Legendary Horse Who Stole Our Hearts". 8 March 2010. Archived from the original on 15 September 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  14. ^ "Red Rum will always be my Grand National favourite". 4 February 2012 [9 April 2011]. Archived from the original on 4 October 2019.
  15. ^ a b c d "Red Rum: Aintree favourite". BBC Sport. 29 March 2004. Archived from the original on 3 June 2004. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  16. ^ a b "Red Rum memories flooding back with Ginger up for a record". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  17. ^ "Red Rum remains people's champion". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  18. ^ "The World Greatest Steeplechase". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011.
  19. ^ "Red Rum Illuminates Blackpool". 13 December 2011. Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  20. ^ "Know what I mean Ali". BBC Sport. 25 November 2000. Archived from the original on 24 November 2003. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Red Rum is UK's best-known horse". BBC. 10 April 2007. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  22. ^ "Ginger McCain: Racing trainer who took Red Rum to an historic hat-trick of Grand National victories". The Independent. 19 September 2011. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2011.

External links edit