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.