Other | Apr 02, 2024

This Day in Sports History: Red Rum's 1977 Grand National

By Harry Bazley

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In the long history of horse racing, few stories capture our imaginations quite like Red Rum. This magnificent steed etched his name into the history of the Grand National, the pinnacle of steeplechase events. Today, we look back at the momentous occasion of Red Rum's record-breaking triumph in the 1977 Grand National, a race that solidified his place as one of the greatest racehorses in history.

Red Rum's journey to the 1977 Grand National was one of resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit. Born in 1965, this legendary horse left his mark on the racing world by winning the Grand National three times and to this day, remains the only horse to do so. Southport car dealer Ginger McCain, famously trained the horse on the sands of Southport, a unique approach that clearly paid off, creating one of the most iconic horses in Grand National History.

Held annually at the Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England, the Grand National is a gruelling test of endurance and skill. with dangerous obstacles that require perfect timing from both horse and rider, including the infamous Becher's Brook and The Chair. The race's long history is filled with moments of triumph, heartbreak, and controversy, making it an event that captivates sports enthusiasts worldwide.

Before the famous 1977 Grand National, Red Rum had already etched his name in the record books of horse racing. His previous victories in 1973 and 1974 had secured his status as a true legend of the sport. However, as the years passed, people began to question: could Red Rum still compete at the age of 12?

The day of the 1977 Grand National arrived, and anticipation filled the air. Red Rum, ridden by jockey Brian Fletcher, stood tall on the starting line, ready to face the formidable challenge ahead. The racecourse buzzed with excitement, spectators eagerly awaiting the momentous event.

As the starting bell rang, the horses thundered down the track and despite concerns surrounding pedal osteitis (a condition that had troubled him earlier in his career) Red Rum raced like never before.

The 1977 Grand National, however, was not without its fair share of drama. Midway through the race, bomb threats led to chaos and uncertainty. In a bid to protect both the horses and spectators, the race was declared void. Yet, this setback only fueled Red Rum's fire.

A few weeks later, a rerun was scheduled, giving Red Rum another shot at etching his name further into the annals of horse racing. On that fateful day, Red Rum and Brian Fletcher once again stood on the starting line, poised to conquer the course and capture the hearts of millions.

As the race unfolded, Red Rum displayed his trademark grit and determination. In a thrilling display of speed and stamina, Red Rum crossed the finish line, securing victory once more. The crowd erupted in thunderous applause, recognizing the magnitude of this extraordinary achievement.

With his triumph in the 1977 Grand National, Red Rum secured his place as the only horse to have won the prestigious event three times. The feat remains unparalleled to this day, a testament to the remarkable bond between horse and rider and the indomitable spirit that defined Red Rum's career.

Following his record-breaking victory, Red Rum became an enduring symbol of excellence and resilience in the world of horse racing. The impact of his achievements extended far beyond the racetrack, captivating the hearts of people worldwide and inspiring future generations of jockeys, trainers, and racing enthusiasts.

The legacy of Red Rum's 1977 Grand National win was not just about the accomplishment itself but also a fantastic story of overcoming adversity. His battle with pedal osteitis, a condition that causes inflammation in the hooves, only exaggerated his ability to conquer challenges and defy the odds.

In recognition of his remarkable achievements, Red Rum was immortalised in various forms of media. The 1983 film "Champions," starring John Hurt, remembered his awe-inspiring journey and brought his story to the silver screen. The film captured the hearts of audiences, further cementing Red Rum's place in popular culture and ensuring that his legacy would endure.

The win itself prompted discussions and debates within the Jockey Club (the governing body of British horse racing) about the rules and regulations surrounding reruns and voided races. The incident sparked a reevaluation of protocols to ensure the safety and integrity of the sport.

Following his retirement, Red Rum lived out the remainder of his days as a beloved and revered figure. He became an ambassador for horse racing, even making appearances at charity events.

But sadly, all great stories must eventually come to an end. In 1995, at the age of 30, Red Rum passed away. He was buried at the winning post of the Aintree Racecourse, forever tied to the place where he achieved his greatest victories.

As time marches on, Red Rum's record-breaking win in the 1977 Grand National remains one of the greatest sporting moments in history. Red Rum's legacy as the only horse to win the Grand National three times, in 1973, 1974 and 1977 stands to this day.

Do you think the record will ever be beaten? Or will Red Rum hold the title until the end of time?