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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 12:35 GMT
Red Rum announces arrival
Red Rum won the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977
Grandstand: Grand National
Saturday 31 March, 1973

When Red Rum stormed to an unlikely victory in the 1977 Grand National his status as a sporting legend was confirmed.

Ginger McCain's horse had already recorded two wins and a pair of second places in the previous four years - and his win in front of a delirious Aintree crowd was the perfect way to end his Grand National career.

Yet for many it was the way he kicked off that sequence of results in 1973, with a stunning battle with Crisp over the final furlongs.

Red Rum started as joint favourite for the National, but by the final canal turn the race was as good as over. Crisp was 25 lengths clear.

At that point his trainer Ginger McCain had settled for second place - but between the final two fences, Crisp's stamina gave out.

His jockey on the day, Richard Pitman, recounts how the win eluded them:

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

"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."

Red Rum had been steadily making ground on Crisp, and with jockey Brian Fletcher urging him on, passed Pitman and Crisp with three-quarters of a length to spare.

Crisp had carried top weight for more than 4 miles, with Red Rum receiving 23lb.

The pressure and pounds wore him down, and in the end he had no more to give.

Pitman's ride will be remembered alongside the likes of Prince Regent and Easter Hero as brave Grand National losers.

Red Rum's will stand alone in glorious isolation - as will the memories of 1973.

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SEE ALSO
Red Rum v Crisp: 30 years on
01 Apr 03  |  Grand National 2003
Richard Pitman's Aintree course guide
26 Mar 03  |  Grand National 2003
McGrath's memorable Nationals
16 Dec 03  |  Horse Racing



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