Red Rum was a racehorse who achieved an unmatched historic treble when he won the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977, and also came second in the two intervening years. As well as his unprecedented record in the world-famous steeplechase, Red Rum was also renowned for his remarkable jumping ability as he fell only once in over 100 races.
Red Rum was bred at Rossenarra stud in Kells, County Kilkenny, Ireland, by Martyn McEnery. Bred to win one-mile races, he won his National titles over the longest distance, four miles and four furlongs. “Rummy” started off in life running in cheap races as a sprinter and dead-heated in a five-furlong flat race at Aintree Racecourse.
In his early career he was once ridden by Lester Piggott and after being passed from training yard to training yard, he found his footing when Liverpool car dealer Ginger McCain bought him for his client Noel le Mare and famously trained the horse on the sands at Southport.
McCain, who also won the Grand National in 2004 with Amberleigh House, thirty-one years after his first victory with Red Rum, reportedly took Red Rum for a therapeutic swim in the sea off Southport before his first National appearances to help treat the horse’s pedalostitis, a debilitating, incurable bone disease in his foot.
At the 1973 Grand National, Red Rum beat the Australian chaser Crisp, carrying 23 pounds more, in what was a new record time of nine minutes, 1.9 seconds. Crisp had led the field virtually all the way in that year’s National, and at the last fence was 15 lengths clear of his nearest pursuer, Red Rum.
However, jockey Brian Fletcher made up the ground on the final stretch and, two strides from the finishing post, Red Rum pipped the tiring Crisp to win by three-quarters of a length in what is often considered one of the greatest Grand Nationals in history.
A year later, Red Rum retained his title at the 1974 National, carrying 12 stone on his back. Red Rum came second in 1975 and 1976; Tommy Stack replaced Fletcher as jockey in the latter race after Fletcher had angered trainer Ginger McCain by telling the press the horse no longer felt right after a defeat in a race away from Aintree.
Again, Red Rum saved his best for Aintree but was held off by Rag Trade. The following year, Stack rode the 12-year-old to his record third Grand National triumph.