R is for Red Rum

Red Rum is one of the most famous if not the most famous race horses the world has probably ever seen. His name is known by everyone whether a racing enthusiast or a once a year Grand National visitor.

Red Rum was foaled in 1965, bred in Ireland and sold for a mere 400 guineas as a yearling. He was trained by Ginger McCain and ran his first race at Aintree, he dead-heated for first. Potential disaster struck relatively early in his career when Red Rum was diagnosed as suffering from pedalostitis, a debilitating bone disease which can cripple horses. McCain's training regime, which took place on the local Southport beach, proved effective in curing Red Rum of his bone problems.

Rum won the 1973, 1974 and 1977 Grand Nationals and was runner-up in 1975 and 1976. He was a very sound jumper, falling just once in over 100 races. His stamina and bravery were perfectly suited to the demanding Grand National fences and his record of three wins and two seconds will surely never be matched. Red Rum's 1973 comeback victory from 30 lengths behind is often considered one of the greatest Grand Nationals in history. In a 2002 UK poll, Red Rum's historic third triumph in the Grand National was voted the 24th greatest sporting moment of all time. Red Rum was prepared for a sixth attempt at the Grand National the season following his 1977 win, but suffered a hairline fracture the day before the 1978 race and was subsequently retired.

However, he had become a national celebrity, opening supermarkets and annually leading the Grand National parade for many further years. His likeness graced playing cards, mugs, posters, models, paintings, plates, and jigsaw puzzles. Several books have been written about Red Rum. In 1975, a song entitled "Red Rum" was issued as a tribute to him by a group named Chaser.

In 1977, Red Rum appeared as a studio guest at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony. Viewers were delighted when the horse recognized the voice of his jockey Tommy Stack, who was appearing by video link from another location.


Red Rum, the horse who put the Grand National and Aintree back into the limelight, lived to the ripe old age of 30. He died on October 18, 1995 and was buried by the winning post at Aintree Racecourse. The spot is marked by a headstone, listing his unparalleled Grand National record. A life-size bronze statue was also erected at the course in tribute to the horse, who is a Grand National, and a national - legend.

 

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