Racing memories of the 1970s were not confined to the Flat. The jumps produced an equine legend as famous as any horse ever. Red Rum became, in 1977, the first horse to win the Grand National three times. His story is full of romance. He was spotted in the 1972 Scottish Grand National (where he finished fifth) by Ginger McCain, a taxi-driver with a small stable in Southport close to the sands, who recommended him to owner Noel Le Mare as a potential horse for the Grand National. But Red Rum suffered from weak bones and appeared lame. McCain had the answer; regular gallops in the shallow, salt water surf of the sea at Southport transformed Red Rum.
Then came the Grand National of 1973. The sporting nation gasped, many with sadness, as the valiant Crisp slowed and was caught in a dramatic finish by Red Rum. Red Rum won again, triumphantly, in 1974. Could Red Rum win the National an unprecedented third time? Runner-up in both 1975 and 1976, it seemed that the story had ended.
But the fairy-tale did continue. The 12-year old, ridden now by Tommy Stack, had one further attempt and that glorious third victory was achieved in 1977.
Red Rum died in 1995, aged 30, and is buried facing the winning post at Aintree. His death was front-page news. A majestic statue at Aintree ensures that, at the home of the Grand National, Red Rum continues to be in the public eye. It was the first full-size equine sculpture by Philip Blacker – himself a successful former jockey. It captures a sense of vitality and movement. Red Rum is still in the limelight at Aintree. Sport and art combined magnificently.