Red Rum

Red Rum

Red Rum (May 3, 1965 – October 18, 1995) was a great steeplechase champion with a historic and unparalleled hat-trick with three Grand National victories in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and finished second in the two years between the second and the third victory, in 1975 and 1976.

The Grand National is a notoriously difficult race, described as “the ultimate test of a horse’s bravery” that takes place annually at Liverpool’s Aintree Racecourse in April.

If you are unfamiliar with this race you can read a short presentation of the Grand National later.

The 1973 race in which Red Rum won by comeback from 30 lengths is often considered one of the greatest races in the history of the Grand National and Red Rum’s historic third triumph in the Grand National in 1977, in a 2002 UK poll, was voted the 24th greatest sporting moment of all time.

Aintree racecourse

Aintree racecourse

The first years of Red Rum’s life

His father was Quorum (1954–1971) and his mother Mared (1958–1976) and he was raised in the Rossenarra stable in County Kilkenny in Ireland by Martyn McEnery.

McEnery gave Red Rum this name by taking the last three letters of his mother and father’s names, respectively.

Bred to win one-mile races, Red Rum has won its most important races over longer distances.

He began his career racing in low-value races as a sprinter and was initially ridden by Lester Piggot who, with 4,493 career wins, including nine wins in the Epson Derby, is regarded as one of the greatest jockeys of all times.

Red Rum’s career changes…

Red Rum’s career changes when Ginger McCain bought him for his client Noel le Mare and trained him on the sandy beaches of Southport, England, and galloping in seawater may have proved hugely important to Red Rum.

The Grand National

For those still unfamiliar with the Grand National, here is a brief presentation of the race that takes place every year at Liverpool’s Aintree racecourse, in April.

The Grand National is one of the oldest and most important horse racing events in the world, one of the best known, the steeple of records.

Record of length with its 7,200 meters, record of obstacles, thirty, with dimensions to be frightening, for the difference in height of the track before and after the jumps that makes it almost impossible for the horses to imagine where the hooves will touch the ground.

Record, unfortunately, also for the many injuries due to the difficulty of the course and its length that crush even the most trained of thoroughbreds.

In 1928 of the 42 starting horses (today the maximum number of starters is 40) only two reached the finish line: Tipperary Tim, the winner, and Billy Barton who after a disastrous fall, managed to get up and cross the finish line mounted by his good jockey.

In 2001, a date closer to the present day, only four crossed the finish line.

Grand National

Red Rum at the Grand National

At the 1973 Grand National Red Rum beat Australian Crisp with a new record time of nine minutes and 1.9 seconds.

Crisp stayed in the lead almost to the finish.

He had 30 lengths of advantage, at the last fence the advantage was reduced to 15 lengths from Red Rum, his closest rival who recovered in the final stretch and, very close to the finish line, Red Rum beat Crisp to win by three quarters of length in what is often considered one of the greatest Grand Nationals in history.

Crisp’s jockey said, “I still dream of that race, of Crisp running so hard and jumping so fearlessly, and then the sound of Red Rum’s hooves as he gets closer and closer to the end.”

He then added: “I felt like I was tied to a railway line with an express train coming loudly and I couldn’t jump off.”

A year later, Red Rum repeated the victory at the 1974 National and finished second in 1975 and 1976.

The following year, 1977, jockey Tommy Stack led 12-year-old Red Rum to his third record triumph at the Grand National, in what is considered one of the greatest moments in horse racing history.

After his victory in 1977 Red Rum was ready for a sixth attempt at the Grand National but, sadly, the thoroughbred suffered a fracture and had to give up the 1978 race.

After a gallop at Aintree racecourse the day before the 1978 Grand National, Red Rum retires.

Red Rum retires

The news of Red Rum’s withdrawal was the main news on BBC Nine O’Clock News that evening (the flagship BBC News program from 14 September 1970 until 13 October 2000, when it was replaced by BBC Ten O’Clock News ) and it was also the news on the front page of the newspapers the following morning.

Thanks to its historic victories, Red Run became a national celebrity and opened the Grand National parade for many years.

The image of him was reproduced on playing cards, mugs, posters, models, paintings, plates and puzzles and books and even a children’s story were written about him

In 1975, a song called “Red Rum” was released as a tribute to him by a group called Chaser, on Polydor written by Steve Jolley, Richard Palmer and Tony Swain.

In 1977 Red Rum appears as a guest in the studio at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony with all spectators thrilled when the horse appears to recognize the voice of his jockey Tommy Stack, via video link from another location.

In 2010 the name of the racecourse bar, previously called “The Sefton”, was changed to “The Red Rum”

Red Rum died…

… died on October 18, 1995 at the age of 30 and his death was a major news item on television news and the next day made the headlines of national newspapers and was buried near the racecourse finish of Aintree where his fans go non-stop.

Where the big horse is buried

Here is the epitaph “Respect this place / this sacred land / here a legend / has found his rest / his feet would fly / our spirits soar / he has earned our love forever”.

Eleven years after his death, a poll found that Red Rum is still the best known and most loved racehorse in the UK and when asked to name a horse, Red Rum was named by 45% of Brits .

A curiosity: in the early 1970s the future management of the Grand National was uncertain but the great triumphs of Red Rum fascinated the nation and ensured enormous public support for the fund to buy the Aintree racecourse and place it among the Jockey Club racecourses.

Red Rum statue in Aintree

Red Rum statue in Aintree

This story ends…

This story ends on September 19, 2011 with the death of Ginger McCain, the coach of Red Rum, who died at the age of 80.

Red Rum and Ginger McCain

Red Rum and Ginger McCain

And now we invite you to meet another great horse: Ribot. Thanks for your visit.

The Great Horses

The Great Ribot


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