Red Rum – Is he over rated?

Over rated? Steady on…..

How can I say such a thing?

He won three Grand Nationals and was runner up on two further occasions so Red Rum was undoubtedly a class act around Aintree but does he deserve to be revered almost as a national (no pun intended) treasure?

I know all about the weight carrying performances and the bigger fences and all that and the fact that no horse has been able to win two Nationals since, let alone three.

What did he beat?

But I just wonder if, just maybe, the standard of opposition in the final two of his wins was not up to the ultra competitive standards we see today?

I say final two wins as, in my opinion, the best horse (at the weights) to compete in the National may be a horse who has never won it. By this I mean Crisp.

History should be changed!

If we are to give Red Rum his hero like status then the horse who has given him 23lb *(yes, that’s right a whopping 23lb*!!!) and very, very nearly beat him must be the best horse to compete in the National?

Crisp was an Australian champion who came to Britain and won our Champion Chase, breaking track records with slick, accurate jumping. The style of his performance in the 1973 National (until the very last few strides) is one of the most stunning displays of jumping I’ve ever seen.

I think if racing history could be rewritten, Crisp should win that National.

What do you think? Are you one of the millions of Red Rum fans who believe he is the best horse ever to run at Aintree? Or do you have another favourite who you think deserves that title?

Let us know what you think.


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15 Responses to Red Rum – Is he over rated?

  1. Pav says:

    I think the remarkable feature of Red Rum’s National career was that it lasted for five consecutive years rather than just one race. Sure, he received a lot of weight from Crisp (wasn’t it 23lbs not 24?)but the following year he gave weight and a beating to a dual Gold Cup winner.
    Best National horse ever? Red Rum. No contest.
    P.S. Weights announced this week. Any predictions?

  2. admin says:

    Hi Pav,
    You are right it was 23lb and not 24. My source was a tad off there! I see your point about beating L’Escargot but he had won the Gold Cup in 70 and 71 and whilst I know he won the National in 1975 I’m not sure the Irish horse was anything like Gold Cup class when he was running up against Red Rum.
    I appreciate the length and quality of Red Rum’s Aintree career but I’m just not sure it warrants the mystical status it seems to have been awarded.
    I suppose the BBC’s syrupy sickly treatment of the horse (and Ginger McCain) may be responsible for my negative views!
    As for the weights in 2008, I have a sneaky feeling that Phil Smith may have been listening to all the stats that keep getting churned out about how the horses over 11 stone are up against it etc etc. It wouldn’t surprise me if he gives one or two of the top weights a bit of a lower mark than we may expect. I suspect he would like a really good horse to win the National this year and then that could inspire the possibility of Gold Cup horses being positively involved in future years.
    How about you? Any horses in particular you feel he may struggle to get a handle on?

  3. Neil says:

    Red Rum was made for the ‘national. He had an amazing temprament and his record in the race is unlikely to be equalled. He had a fairy tale quality throughout his life and don’t forget he won a flat race there as a 2-y-o when he dead heated and I think he was ridden by L.Piggott! And the ‘national is about just that very thing, FAIRY TALES!! There is a good book about his life but I cannot remember the title!
    I saw him at Hamilton races in his “celebrity” career. He just knew everyone was there to see him and he strolled around the paddock as if to say “aren’t you lucky to see me”. There was a person in a wheelchair at the paddock side. He stopped and turning, stepped onto the flower border. We thought he fancied a pick at the flowers but he reached his head right over the rail to allow that person to givehim a pat. It was astounding and I’ll never forget it.
    It must have been a fabulous feat by Crisp who I had backed myself that year. When I see it again I still think it was losing mometum at the elbow that cost him. The ‘national is a quirky one-off race that produces these phenomena but Red Rum fully deserves his place in its history.

  4. trevor says:

    When people start slating great horses it makes me think,did he back the 2nd ?,did he never back one of the greatest national hunt horses on any of the 3 occasions it won ?,or is he just one of those argumentive types that will argue a point irrespective of wether he,s right or wrong.Fact,red rum won 3 nationals,fact,he was the best horse at the weights,fact,crisp was,nt good enough to carry the weight allotted to him,fact,the national is a handicap and horses get a weight according to what they,ve shown on a racecourse,fact,red rum beat crisp because he was a winner,when it came to the battle up the run in he had the tenacity and guts to get to the line first.People remember winners,but i will add in this case crisp wiil be remembered more then any other horse that finished 2nd for his contribution to one of the great races of all time,but the fact was he finished 2nd to the greatest horse in grand national history,a horse which himself carried 12 stone to victory in 1974 and 11st 8lbs in 1977,a statistic that proves red rum loved aintree so much that when he was right he would have won the national every time irrespective of what weight he carried.

  5. Richard Livermore says:

    Nobody can argue against the greatness of Red Rum’s Grand National performances. If memory serves me right after 1973 he carried between 11 st 8 lbs or 12 st in each of his other Nationals. A truly fabulous record.
    But does’nt this also add to the greatness of Crisp that he gave Red Rum 23 lbs and only got passed close home?
    You really cannot take anything from two wonderful horses, but whenever I see the film of the 1973 race I just wish that THIS TIME Crisp hangs on.

  6. admin says:

    No, Trevor, I didn’t back Crisp and, yes, I did back Red Rum on one of the occasions when he won. So I’m not talking out of my pocket. I’m simply stating that I believe that the Red Rum euphoria is over hyped and that Crisp doesn’t get the credit he deserves for nearly giving him such a massive amount of weight. I was trying to outline that as a single performance in the National, Crisp’s weight carrying effort must be the most outstanding if we are to believe that Red Rum goes on to be the National icon that you and many others believe him to be. You’ll note that I did say “the best horse (at the weights)” in my earlier piece. I can’t really see how that can be disputed if Crisp gives Red Rum 23lb?
    I’m not trying to be argumentative I’m just a bit fed up with Red Rum and the National being made into some sort of horseracing fairystory. I have every respect for what “Rummy” achieved at Aintree but I think the over sentimental clap trap that gets associated with his performances goes way too far.

  7. Neil says:

    I totally agree with your assessment of CRISP, that to give that amount to Red Rum and nearly win was probably the greatest ever ‘National feat. Crisp’s story is just as fascinating as the RR one and I’m sure he would have won had he not lost his momentum at the elbow. Horses like these saved the race from extinction because they generate such interest over a lengthy period of time and are not fly-by-night’s like some so called super horses from the flat etc.
    I don’t think it’s sentimentality that drives this but admiration for the courage and spirit these animals display.

  8. Phil P says:

    Neil touched on the point there that horses like these saved the National. That is a stone cold fact. I suppose most of you here realise just how close Aintree was to closing and having houses built on the course in the 80′s. Without those performances from Rummy which had captured the nations imagination, I firmly believe this site wouldn’t exist today.

    I started going to Aintree in 1990 and the crowds there then were no great shakes. I can’t put my finger on what has happened in recent years (you can barely breathe in the bars at Aintree now due to the sheer amount of people in there!) but we have a hell of a lot to thank Red Rum for!

  9. QuatreBras says:

    How many horses have run in 5 consecutive nationals?
    How many horses have completed the national course on 5 seperate occasions?
    How many horses have won or been placed in 5 nationals?
    How many horses have won 3 nationals?

    Red Rum was a freak, a true equine hero – based purely on his national runs alone. Throw in the fact that he won a 5 furlong sprint as a 2yo (admittedly only in a selling race) and you cannot question the horses legendary status.

  10. jonaya says:

    look u think crisp should be the best national horse and that racing history should be reritten so he could win the fact is he would never have won the national 3 times and even if he had of beat red rum on that day red rum would still be the legend cause of his victorys twice i think ur finding an excuse for red rum to not be a antree hero the fact is red rum did best crisp on that day wheather it was close or not he still won and twice more9and he was 2nd twice0 crisp could not have done this without a doubt red rum is and does deserve this title.

  11. Daniel says:

    QuatreBras – The only horses to come close to Red Rum since 1977 are West Tip (fell 85, 1st 86, placed 87,88 and 89 and completed in 1990) and Hedgehunter, winner 05, 2nd 06, completed 07 and 08 and fell at the last in 04.

    Like Red Rum, West Tip managed the unique (?) feat of completing 150 consecutive Grand National Fences without falling, and Hedgehunter managed 120 in a row, and having completed 29 of the 30 prior to that.

    It should also be noted that prior to Red Rum, no horse had done the National Double for 38 years, and it is 34 years since Red Rum did the double.

    More horses have won 2 or more Gold Cups in this time, so does that mean their opposition was weak? Also everyone goes on about Arkle but how many opponents did he ever have in the Gold Cup and on Level weights.

    Perhaps the most underrated National winner of recent times and horse most likely to have won a 2nd National was Party Politics – 2nd 4 years after he won the race he would in my opinion (apart from Hedgehunter who almost did the double in 2006) have won the 93 race had it not been void

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  13. Neil says:

    Been reading these comments on Red Rum my first equine hero (my second;a close second is Desert Orchid)
    What can I say that’s not already been said.
    He put southport on the map running up and down on them sand.He was lame when Ginger bought him for Noel Le Mare.The southport sands and sea sorted that out.
    In 73 the third horse was L’Escargot.In 74 on level weights L’Escargot was second.Rummy went on to do what no other horse went on to do and win the Scottish Version too.Remarkably his finest year bar none.
    In 75 L’Escargot did get his revenge but remember L’Escargot was a dual Gold Cup Winner and he was getting a stone in weight from rummy,and it’s reported by Ginger that it was on ground he hated.
    I think that running a good race under them conditions demands respect.
    I did back him in 1977 but was unaware of what he did earlier,but learning it later made me appreciate that I backed a bit of history.

  14. maureen says:

    We spoke to Brian Fletcher a couple of years ago; he said that after he had lost the ride on Red Rum he wouldn’t have won on the very soft ground when Tommy Stack rode him; however, the other year when the ground was better there was a point in the race when he told Tommy Stack to kick on, and he didn’t; I understand that even Tommy Stack has admitted that, had he taken Brian’s advice Red Rum would have won that year.Also, L’Escargot is probably one of the most underrated horses in history.What a golden era it was. Love the story about the wheelchair. I saw him twice; once when he led the parade for the 1989 National, and then when he came to Uttoxeter.

  15. Neil says:

    Agreed about L’Escargot being underrated.I know it was the early seventies when he won his gold cups and racing was not to my attention then,but when Best Mate was on the scene the was no reference to L’Escargot the was however references made to Arkle.

    I was there too at the 89 national.I was in the Grandstands.The only one regret I had that day was not backing Beech Road,whom I backed when he won at 50/1 at Chbeltenham.Still can’t turn back the clock.I hoped that you managed a winner or two that day Maureen.

    Incidently L’Escargot nearly went at an early stage,but found a leg and the rest is history,but you can also say the same for Andy Pandy who looked to have a commanding lead in 77.Remember the first round in them days was all about survival and the second they say the race was on in earnest,probably where the myth you need a good two and half miler came from.

    Yes Ginger also agrees that Red Rum could have beaten Rag Trade that year,but Tommy Stack had trained it before Ginger and thought he knew best.Ginger supported Tommy saying he made a top class decision at that time,we can all be wise with hindsight.