Red Rum is not only the most famous Grand National winner of all time but, arguably, the most famous racehorse of all time. Unfashionably bred, but imaginatively named, being by Quorum out of Mared, Red Rum was, at one point in his career, an unremarkable sprinter, who suffered from a condition called ‘pedal osteitis’, which caused intermittent lameness. That was, of course, long before he was bought for 6,000 guineas by the late Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain on behalf of the late Noel Le Mare at Doncaster Sales in August,1972. The rest, as they say, is history.
Trained in Birkdale, near Southport, principally on a ‘gallop’, prepared by McCain himself on the nearby beach, Red Rum won his first five starts for his new connections. Consequently, on his first attempt in the National, in 1973, he was sent off 9/1 joint-favourite, alongside former Champion Chase winner Crisp, from whom he was receiving 23lb. Ridden by Richard Pitman, Crisp led the field a merry dance and was still about 15 lengths ahead jumping the final fence. Approaching the Elbow, though, the giant Australian ‘chaser started wander off a true line as Red Rum, ridden by Brian Fletcher, crept closer and closer. In the final, desperate run to the line, Red Rum overhauled the long-time leader to win by three-quarters of a length; in so doing, he smashed the previous course record, set by Reynoldstown in 1935.
Red Rum ran in the next four Grand Nationals, winning again – albeit in less dramatic fashion, but carrying top weight of twelve stone – under Fletcher in 1974 and finishing a highly creditable second to L’Escargot, under the same jockey, in 1975. He finished second again in 1976, under new jockey Tommy Stack, failing by 2 lengths to concede 12lb to Rag Trade but, in 1977, as a twelve-year-old, achieved Aintree immortality by sluicing clear of the field to win by 25 lengths and record an unprecedented third win.
Don’t Push It, who won the Grand National in 2010, has the distinction of being the one and only winner of the celebrated steeplechase ridden by Sir Anthony Peter ‘A.P.’ McCoy. His victory was also a first for owner John Patrick ‘J.P.’ McManus and trainer John Joseph ‘Jonjo’ O’Neill but, unlike McCoy, who retired from race riding in April, 2015, they both have prospects of adding to their winning tally.
Foaled on June 6, 2000, Don’t Push It started his racing career in ‘bumpers’, winning one at Market Rasen, as a five-year-old, in September, 2005, before making a winning debut over obstacles in a ‘fixed brush’ novices’ hurdle at Haydock three months later. After an absence of nearly a year, he was put straight over fences, winning two of his three starts and finishing second, beaten three-quarters of a length, behind Denman, in a novices’ chase at Cheltenham on the other.
For the remainder of his career, he switched back and forth between hurdles and fences, but was always better – 27lb better, according to official figures – over the larger obstacles. In fact, he won five of his 14 starts over fences, earning over £715,000 in win and place prize money, but just two of his 13 starts over hurdles, earning just over £37,000. Of course, regardless of his previous, or subsequent, race record, his defining performance came on what Jonjo O’Neill later called a ‘magical day’ at Aintree in April, 2010.
Well-backed, into 10/1 joint-favourite from double those odds on the morning of the race, Don’t Push It jumped impeccably in mid-division for the first circuit, before taking a more prominent position on the second. He moved into second place behind Black Apalachi at the second last fence, as the likes of Big Fella Thanks and Hello Bud dropped away, tackled the leader at the final fence and stayed on well to win by 5 lengths and give McCoy – who’d finished no better than third in fourteen previous attempts – a memorable win.
The full result of the 2019 Grand Nation (All finishers – 1st to 19th place)
1. Tiger Roll (Davy Russell) 4-1 Fav
2. Magic Of Light (Paddy Kennedy) 66-1
3. Rathvinden (Ruby Walsh) 8-1
4. Walk In The Mill (James Best) 25-1
5. Anibale Fly (Mark Walsh) 10-1
6. One For Arthur (Derek Fox) 25-1
7. Regal Encore (Jonathan Burke) 66-1
8. Singlefarmpayment (Paddy Brennan) 50-1
9. Outlander (James Bowen) 66-1
10. Valseur Lido (Rachael Blackmore) 66-1
11. Livelovelaugh (David Mullins) 25-1
12. A Toi Phil (Denis O’Regan) 50-1
13. Bless The Wings (Robert Dunne) 50-1
14. Ultragold (Tom O’Brien) 50-1
15. Vieux Lion Rouge (Tom Scudamore) 50-1
16. Captain Redbeard (Sam Coltherd) 66-1
17. Folsom Blue (L P Dempsey) 66-1
18. Valtor (Daryl Jacob) 66-1
19. Don Poli (Patrick Mullins) 66-1