In the history of steeplechasing, just two horse have won both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. The legendary Golden Miller did so, in the same season, in 1934, but it is less well remembered that L’Escargot won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, in 1970 and 1971, before winning the Grand National in 1975.
Trained by Dan Moore and ridden, throughout his career, by Tommy Carberry, L’Escargot actuakky ran in the Grand National four times in all. On his first attempt, in 1972, he parted company with Tommy Carberry at the third fence but, in 1973, he completed the course, finishing a creditable, if remote, third behind Red Rum, who was receiving 23lb. In 1974, even a 24lb pull wasn’t enough for him to reverse the form with Red Rum and he finished second, beaten 7 lengths.
In 1975, all eyes were, understandably, on Red Rum, as he attempted an unprecedented hat-trick but, on his favoured soft going, and a further 10lb better off at the weights, L’Escargot proved more than a match for his old rival. Red Rum jumped the third-last fence just in front, but approaching the second-last L’Escargot eased ahead, with Carberry, not for the first time, glancing over his shoulder for non-existent dangers. The pair continued to match strides until the final fence, but on the run-in it was ‘one-way traffic’, with L’Escargot drawing further and further clear to win, comfortably, by 15 lengths.
Immediately afterwards, owner Raymond Guest made a gift of L’Escargot to Joan Moore, wife of his trainer, who said that the 12-year-old would ‘never race again’. However, L’Escargot did run once more, in the Kerry National at Listowel the following September, much to the annoyance of Guest, who took him back and shipped him to the United States, where he died nine years later.