Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help
Last Updated:  Tuesday, 1 April, 2003, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Red Rum v Crisp: 30 years on
Red Rum just defeats Crisp in the 1973 Grand National
Brian Fletcher and Red Rum just edge out Pitman and Crisp
The 1973 Grand National was one of the most memorable races of the 20th Century.

It marked the first victory of the legendary Red Rum and produced perhaps the most exciting finish Aintree has ever seen.

Runaway leader Crisp jumped the last fence 15 lengths clear but the burden of carrying top weight for 4 miles was too much.

Red Rum, with 23lb less than his rival, ate into the lead and beat him on the line to win by three-quarters of a length.

Two of the main protagonists tell the BBC Sport website of their memories of that unforgettable day 30 years ago.

Crisp's jockey
Now a BBC pundit

Crisp was the Australian champion who had broken course records and started as joint favourite with Red Rum.

I soon knew that the Aintree fences would hold no terrors to him. At Becher's Brook, he just flew and galloped away.

He led the field as no horse in living memory has done
Pitman on Crisp

At The Chair, our nearest pursuer Grey Sombrero fell and I was 25 lengths clear. It was quite an eerie feeling to go out into the countryside on our own.

When we got to the Canal Turn, I just thought if his stamina lasts, he will win it.

But between the last two fences, the petrol ran out - it was like a balloon being pricked.

All of a sudden, his stride changed - his floppy ears dropped like a lop-eared rabbit.

He lost every ounce of strength, and then I made the biggest schoolboy error a jockey could make.

I picked my stick up and gave him a crack, and he went left-handed. We lost three lengths.

The amazing thing is because the horses are bred to race, even though he was running on empty, he tried again as he heard Red Rum's hoofbeats.

There was nothing left, and although I was beaten, I'd had the ride of my life. You cannot buy that sort of experience.

Red Rum's trainer
Now trains Aintree hope Amberleigh House

Going to the Canal Turn second time round, Crisp was so far clear.

We'd gone a good second then and I thought: "Great, magic - we're going to be placed anyway."

At the back of my mind, I thought it was bad luck to meet a horse like Crisp on his day.

Crisp was brilliant. The ride Richard Pitman gave him was second to none round there.

I watch it occasionally on video and one day Crisp is going to beat him
McCain on a thrilling finish

The only point I would have made afterwards is that my horse carried 12 stone the next year and he didn't wobble at all.

I always said Red Rum might drop dead on you but he would never go off a true line because he was such a gutsy horse.

From the Canal Turn, we were making up one or two lengths at every fence.

Everyone thought Crisp was going to win and they started to roar but I think I was shouting "What about Red Rum?". It was a little bit like the tortoise chasing the hare.

He was making ground and wearing the other horse down quietly.

I watch it occasionally on video and one day Crisp is going to beat him. It was only bang on the line that he got there.

Links to more Grand National 2003 stories


Richard Pitman's Aintree course guide
26 Mar 03  |  Grand National 2003

E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability Sport | US Sport | Other Sport | Olympics 2004

Scores & Fixtures | Have Your Say | Photo Galleries | TV/Radio Listings

Fun and Games | Question of Sport | BBC Sport Extra

Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport