Fairy tales are things we believe in when we are children, but they really seem to exist in the world of Equestrian Sport.
In my thoughts I’m back at Aintree, home of the Grand National and I’m thinking of a thoroughbred gelding called Red Rum.
Red Rum was born in Ireland in 1965 at the Rossenarra Stud in County Kilkenny and his name derived from the last three letters of his mother’s name, Dared, and the last three letters from his father’s, Quorum.
Red Rum started his career as a sprinter, being raced in cheap, flat races and was passed from one training yard to another and eventually ended up in a yard owned by a car dealer called Ginger MacCain.
Red Rum was not the healthiest of horses, he suffered from an incurable bone disease called pedal osteitis in his foot, and as Ginger often trained him on the beach, galloping through the salty sea water may have proved beneficial to Red Rum’s feet, and make it possible for him to pursue a career in National Hunt racing. In fact, it is thought that Ginger MacCain gave him a therapeutic swim in the sea before his first Grand National appearance.
In 1973, jockey Brian Fletcher rode Red Rum in the Grand National, and remarkably went on to win the race beating the Australian horse Crisp, who had led virtually all the way. At the last fence Red Rum was trailing Crisp by about 30 horse lengths, but in the final part of the race he managed to catch up and pass Crisp to get to the finish line first.
A year later in 1974 unbelievably Red Rum won the race again and retained his title, and in the following races in 1975 and 1976 he came second.
Jockey Tommy Stack became the new rider for Red Rum and together they surprised the world by going on to win the Grand National in 1977, giving Red Rum his third win in this grueling race being what is regarded as one of the greatest moments ever in the history of horse racing.
In 1978 Red Rum was retired from the sport but by this time he had become a National celebrity, so he was often present at special occasions and pictures of him were seen on paintings, plates, mugs, posters etc. all over the country and books have been written about him and his trainer.
Red Rum died on 18th October 1995 aged 30 years, and he was laid to rest by the winning post at Aintree racecourse.
“They say records are there to be broken, but Red Rum’s at Aintree is one which will stand the test of time”