The late, great Red Rum, May 3rd 1965 – October 18th, 1995, was a top-notch staying chaser. Certainly, he’s the most famous ever known in the sport.
Red Rum’s fame comes from the fact that he is the only horse ever to have won three Grand Nationals at Aintree. He won the race in 1973, 1974 and 1977. What few remember however is that he also ran second in both 1975 and 1976.
As well as all of this, he also took in and won the Scottish Grand National in 1974. These achievements can probably never be repeated and make those of the admittedly excellent Tiger Roll look scant in comparison.
As well as winning Aintree’s then notorious ‘ultimate test of courage’, he was known for his flawless jumping having amazingly never fallen in 100 races.
Red Rum’s Pedigree
Red Rum was foaled on May 3rd, 1965 at the Rossenarra Stud in Kells, County Kilkenny.
The Irish-bred is by Quorum out of Mared, a granddaughter herself of top broodmare Batika whose progeny included Turtle Island, the Irish 2000 Guineas hero.
Red Rum was bred it seems to take part in races at around a mile, perhaps even Classics, with nobody at the time foreseeing that he’d be such a great stayer.
His breeder Martyn McEnery named him by taking the last three letters of his dam and sire, r-e-d from Mared and r-u-m from Quorum. This is the truth; the rumour is that it was known that ‘Red Rum’ was ‘murder’ backwards.
|Sire/Dam||Grand Sire/Dam||Great Grand Sire/Dam|
|Queen Of The Meadows|
|Mared||Magic Red||Link Boy|
Records aren’t particularly accurate about Red Rum’s full training and racing history.
What we do know is that, having bin in the care of various trainers, the horse had a debilitating bone disease. His pedal osteitis was incurable, but something that was famously helped when he reached his last trainer, Southport-based Ginger McCain.
McCain had bought the horse on behalf of Noel le Mare and began training him on the nearby beach at Southport.
Walking and galloping though the sea water there was very therapeutic for the horse, especially for his hooves, and was fantastic for his condition.
While other races were taken in, Red Rum became synonymous with Grand National in the 1970’s.
On his first try in the Grand National in 1973, Red Rum was receiving lots of weight from the famous chaser Crisp. He beat him and despite the weight allowance he gained many fans immediately for having won the race in a new record time of 9 minutes, 1.9 seconds.
Crisp had cut out nearly all the running, gaining a 30-length lead at one stage. Famously, he was still 15 lengths clear of Red Rum at the final fence but the star horse made up all that ground heading towards the elbow, ultimately catching and passing Crisp just a couple of strides from the line.
The race is known as one of the best Nationals of all time and can hardly be beaten for drama, let alone for becoming the first of what were three very famous Grand National wins for Red Rum.
The following year in 1974, Red Rum had to carry 12 stone. He still managed to win it, returning to the enclosure as an immensely popular and very rare double-winner. Even more extraordinary is the fact that was turned out in the Scottish Grand National shortly afterward and won that too. He is the only horse to have won both of those races in the same season in all of racing history.
Gallantly, Red Rum was second in 1975 and was by now a proper racing hero. He was prepared for a fourth crack at the race in 1976 and was runner-up again, truly by now cementing his place among horse racing’s most popular participants ever.
Brian Fletcher had ridden Red Rum in his first three Nationals, but having said that the horse no longer felt the same was replaced for his fourth effort by Tommy Stack, apparently having irritated Ginger McCain with his comments.
Though a win seemed unlikely, the public’s favourite horse was prepared by McCain for a fifth Grand National in a row in 1977. By now a twelve-year-old, the amazing stayer strode on under Stack to record his third win in the race and returned to not only raucous celebrations, but barely a dry eye.
The only horse to even be considered as in the same Grand National parish as Red Rum since those days has been Tiger Roll. A dual winner, Tiger Roll may well have won a third National had the race not been cancelled due to the pandemic, but that is not certain.
Furthermore, the race distance and the fences have been made easer since Red Rum’s days and no horse, including Tiger Roll, can match running first or second in no fewer than five Grand Nationals. His record will most likely never be matched or beaten.
Red Rum’s Grand National Record:
|1973||1st||10st 5lbs||9/1 JF||Brian Fletcher|
|1975||2nd||12st||7/2 F||Brian Fletcher|
|1976||2nd||11st 10lbs||10/1||Tommy Stack|
|1977||1st||11st 8lbs||9/1 JF||Tommy Stack|
Over the course of his illustrious career, the great Red Rum managed to claw in £146,409 in win and place prize money.
That is the equivalent of just a shade over £1 million in the modern day, a nice sum, but one that hardly comes close to representing his talent and accomplishments accurately.
After three wins and two seconds, there was nothing in 1977/78 for connections to suggest that he shouldn’t go for a sixth Grand National.
However unfortunately, Red Rum suffered a hairline fracture and was retired just a day before the 1978 Grand National.
The gelding enjoyed his retirement and was a superstar, appearing on the front page of newspapers with the sport of horse racing now providing many major news stories.
He dies on October 18th, 1995. He was 30 years old. His passing was a lead news item on television and in newspapers the following day.
Red Rum is buried right at the winning post at Aintree Racecourse.
Representing a legacy that does not entirely fit his profile in all truth, the Red Rum Handicap Chase is a race named after him at his beloved Aintree. The race is a Grade 3 chase run on the Mildmay Course rather than the Grand National Course, and over just two miles.
The event was formerly the Aintree Chase, but was retitled in the great horse’s honour and not before time, in 1997 after his death.
Red Rum was bred by Martyn McEnery in County Kilkenny in Ireland.
His racing owner was Noel le Mare who sent him to be trained famously by Ginger McCain, whose son Donald McCain is still a high-profile National Hunt trainer in the north west of England to this day.
Among others to have ridden the great horse, jockey Brian Fletcher won the Grand National on him twice and in fact died in 2017 as one of only three jockeys to win the National three times in total. He was 69 years old. Tommy Stack however rode him on his final Grand National victory.