From the archive: Red Rum seals National double at Ayr

Brian Fletcher takes Red Rum (No 1) to victory at the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April 1974. Picture: TSPL
Brian Fletcher takes Red Rum (No 1) to victory at the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April 1974. Picture: TSPL
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A DEAFENING roar from the 18,000 crowd greeted Red Rum when he became the first horse to land the Grand National and Scottish Grand National double in one season at Ayr on Saturday.

Red Rum scored by four lengths from Proud Tarquin with Kildagin a further neck away third.

It was a memorable racing experience. “We’ll never see another one like him,” said Middleham trainer Neville Crump, who has saddled three Grand National winners.

Red Rum is now finished for the season, missing next Saturday’s Whitbread Gold Cup at Sandown Park. He will try to complete a Grand National treble next year and William Hills offer 10-1. Moved up gradually by Brian Fletcher, Red Rum went third behind Proud Tarquin eight fences from home in the four-miles race. The nine-year-old went smoothly second with three to go and was ahead at the next. Then, with the crowd willing and cheering him on, the 11-8 favourite made it more than obvious that he felt no ill effects from his Aintree triumph when he made a superb jump at the last and sprinted away under his top weight of 11st 13lb.

Said Lord Oaksey, rider of Proud Tarquin: “Red Rum didn’t jump the second last too well and it was still a race, but he put in a superb one at the last.”

Red Rum is now within £5000 of taking over Arkle’s mantle as the record National Hunt prizewinner. With 20 wins amassing £69,636 he is £5284 behind Arkle, who won 26 races worth £74,920. Red Rum is already the record-holder for prize-money won in one season. The Ayr prize brought his total to £36,779. His trainer, Donald McCain, who, like the 86-year-old owner, Noel Le Mare, comes from Southport, said: “When he came round the elbow, I thought this is where Aintree might tell on him, but he just kept going.”

McCain added: “That’s it. I couldn’t ask him to run again this season. Besides, my nerves wouldn’t stand it.”

Fletcher, who rode Red Rum to both his Aintree victories, declared: “He’s the greatest chaser I’m ever likely to ride. Everything went perfectly.”

The Scotsman, 22 April 1974