Red Rum 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.

Golden Miller Golden Miller has the distinction of being the only horse in the history of British racing to complete the Cheltenham Gold Cup-Grand National double in the same season. Owned by eccentric millionairess Dorothy Paget, trained by Basil Briscoe and ridden by Gerry Wilson, Golden Miller was, undoubtedly, the most famous steeplechaser of the interwar years. He had unseated previous jockey Ted Leader at the Canal Turn on the second circuit, when still in contention, on his only prior attempt over the National fences in 1933 but, fresh from his third consecutive win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup – just 17 days earlier – he started 8/1 second favourite for the 1934 Grand National.

 

 

Despite carrying the welter burden of 12st 2lb, Golden Miller got the better of a titanic struggle with the eventual second, Delaneige, who was receiving 10lb, throughout the final half mile, jumping the last upsides and striding away on the run-in to win by 5 lengths. In so doing, Golden Miller set a new course record of 9 min 20.4 sec, which would stand until smashed by Red Rum 39 years later. The Sporting Life of the day called him “The Finest Chaser of the Century”.

 

 

Golden Miller won the Cheltenham Gold Cup again in 1935 and, despite carrying top weight of 12st 7lb, was sent off the shortest-priced favourite in the history of the Grand National, at 2/1, to repeat his Aintree heroics. However, Golden Miller propped, as if trying to refuse, approaching the eleventh fence, which has a 6-foot wide ditch on the take-off side and, although he negotiated the obstacle, parted company with Gerry Wilson. Recriminations followed, with Basil Briscoe blaming Wilson for jumping off and Dorothy Paget blaming Briscoe for training her horse too hard. In any event, Wilson lost the ride on Golden Miller and Briscoe requested Paget remove all her horses from his yard shortly afterwards.

 

 

Wilson said later, “I’m convinced The Miller was frightened by what seemed like a mirror glinting in his face. Something startled him.” Certainly, Golden Miller refused at the same fence in 1936 and again in 1937, so his erstwhile jockey may have had a point.

 

 

 

Don't Push It 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.

Grand National Names Victory for the all-too-well-named ‘Lottery’ in the first ‘official’ Grand National – or the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, as it was known at the time – in 1839 foreshadowed events at Aintree for years to come. Even to this day, the outcome of the revered steeplechase remains notoriously unpredictable; so much so, in fact, that many people who bet on the race choose their selection because it has a name that is amusing, whimsical or otherwise appealing for some, not-altogether-obvious, reason. You see, why some will be analysing who will win the Grand National in 2020, others will be thinking ‘what’s in a name?’.

 

Red, for example, is an important colour in Asian, especially Chinese, culture, where it symbolises good luck, happiness and prosperity. Red Alligator, at 100/7, in 1968 was the first Grand National winner with ‘red’ in his name, but he was followed shortly afterwards by the inimitable Red Rum, who won in 1973, 1974 and 1977 at odds of 9/1, 11/1 and 9/1, respectively. More recently, Red Marauder was one of just two horses that survived the 2001 Grand National unscathed – and one of just four finishers in all, winning by a distance at odds of 33/1.

 

Likewise, gold and silver are precious metals symbolising wealth. Golden Miller, returned at 8/1 in 1934, has been the only ‘gold’ National winner so far and, while the victory of Ascetic’s Silver, at 20/1, in 1906, is beyond living memory, two more ‘silver’ winners, Nicolaus Silver, at 28/1, in 1961 and Silver Birch, at 33/1, have lined the coffers of those inclined to ‘follow the money’, so to speak.

 

The rules surrounding the naming of racehorses, imposed by the spoilsports at Weatherbys, means that truly laugh-out-loud names are few and far between, although 1975 winner L’Escargot – French for ‘The Snail’ – no doubt raised a smile with the once-a-year betting brigade just two years after Britain entered what was the Common Market. Party Politics, the 1992 winner, wasn’t particularly amusing, either, but was at least topical, winning at 14/1 just five days before the Conservative Party, led by John Major, confounded opinion polls to win the General Election that year.

 

Anyone born in Scotland, or with a background in mountaineering, or both, may have delighted in the entirely unexpected victories of Foinavon, at 100/1, in 1967, and Ben Nevis, at 40/1, in 1980. Earth Summit, albeit sent off at a comparatively paltry 7/1 favourite, was another National winner along the same lines in 1998.

 

Victory for the all-too-well-named ‘Lottery’ in the first ‘official’ Grand National – or the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase, as it was known at the time – in 1839 foreshadowed events at Aintree for years to come. Even to this day, the outcome of the revered steeplechase remains notoriously unpredictable; so much so, in fact, that many people who bet on the race choose their selection because it has a name that is amusing, whimsical or otherwise appealing for some, not-altogether-obvious, reason.

 

Red, for example, is an important colour in Asian, especially Chinese, culture, where it symbolises good luck, happiness and prosperity. Red Alligator, at 100/7, in 1968 was the first Grand National winner with ‘red’ in his name, but he was followed shortly afterwards by the inimitable Red Rum, who won in 1973, 1974 and 1977 at odds of 9/1, 11/1 and 9/1, respectively. More recently, Red Marauder was one of just two horses that survived the 2001 Grand National unscathed – and one of just four finishers in all, winning by a distance at odds of 33/1.

 

Likewise, gold and silver are precious metals symbolising wealth. Golden Miller, returned at 8/1 in 1934, has been the only ‘gold’ National winner so far and, while the victory of Ascetic’s Silver, at 20/1, in 1906, is beyond living memory, two more ‘silver’ winners, Nicolaus Silver, at 28/1, in 1961 and Silver Birch, at 33/1, have lined the coffers of those inclined to ‘follow the money’, so to speak.

 

The rules surrounding the naming of racehorses, imposed by the spoilsports at Weatherbys, means that truly laugh-out-loud names are few and far between, although 1975 winner L’Escargot – French for ‘The Snail’ – no doubt raised a smile with the once-a-year betting brigade just two years after Britain entered what was the Common Market. Party Politics, the 1992 winner, wasn’t particularly amusing, either, but was at least topical, winning at 14/1 just five days before the Conservative Party, led by John Major, confounded opinion polls to win the General Election that year.

 

Anyone born in Scotland, or with a background in mountaineering, or both, may have delighted in the entirely unexpected victories of Foinavon, at 100/1, in 1967, and Ben Nevis, at 40/1, in 1980. Earth Summit, albeit sent off at a comparatively paltry 7/1 favourite, was another National winner along the same lines in 1998.