If you want to know whether a horse has reached legendary status, check for two things: does he have a bronze statue in his honour and does he have a nickname that everyone knows?
Red Rum or Rummy fits the bill on both counts.
Red Rum achieved a grand trifecta when he captured the Grand National on three occasions Ė in 1973, 1974 and 1977 Ė and finished a close second during the two other years in between, 1975 and 1976.
That unprecedented rare treble made Red Rum an instant celebrity and a national sensation in the United Kingdom. His proud image was everywhere: posters, toys, cards, jigsaw puzzles, paintings, mugs, plates and the like.
When a horse is the guest of honor in a host of public events, thatís another thing that tells you he is a legend. Rummy was the guest of honor in supermarket openings, the yearly Grand National parade, the 'Steeplechase' ride at Blackpool and other events. He was also the subject of many books Ė written by his jockeys, trainer and authors Ivor Herbert and Christine Pemberton, who wrote a well-loved childrenís book about the horse.
Perhaps what captured peopleís imagination about Red Rum is that his success had its share of drama and controversy.
Red Rumís initial victory at the 1973 Grand National was one such dramatic moment. For most of the race, it was Crisp who led the field, leading by as many as 15 lengths clear of Red Rum at one time. However, Crisp, who carried the full weight of 12 stones, faded at the end and was overtaken by Red Rum on the long run-in. Red Rum won by a mere three-quarters of a length and set a new record by finishing in nine minutes, 1.9 seconds, 20 seconds faster than the old record. It was an incredible record that would last for 16 years.
In 1974, it was Red Rumís turn to carry the full weight of 12 stone, but, despite that, he would cruise easily to victory to become the first and only consecutive champion at the Grand National since 1936 when Reynoldstown achieved the feat.
After winning the Grand National in 1973 and 1974, Red Rum was a clear favorite to repeat in 1975. When the horse lost, accusations of cheating were hurled at Red Rumís jockey, Brian Fletcher. Despite leading Red Rum to consecutive victories the previous two years, Fletcher was said to have held the horse back to allow LíEscargot to win the race.
In 1976, Red Rum had a new jockey, Robert Stack. Unfortunately, Stack could only lead Red Rum to second place in the Grand National behind Rag Trade.
However, things would change in 1977 as Stack rode Red Rum to his third Grand National victory. This win was so dramatic that it has since been regarded as one of the greatest moments in British sports. It also made Red Rum the most famous and beloved horse in Great Britain.
In 1995, Red Rum died at age 30 and was buried at Aintree, beside the Grand Nationalís winning post. Later, a life-size statue of Red Rum was built on the course.