RED RUM's FIRST GRAND NATIONAL WIN - 1973 (Entire Televised Broadcast of 3/31/73)
The drama and emotion never threatens to diminish with each repeated showing. It's not the tightest Grand National finish ever but back in 1973, many who witnessed the thrilling final strides, still regard it as the greatest ever Grand National. See the ENTIRE TELEVISED BROADCAST!!
Run in a time of 9 minutes and 1.9 seconds, which shattered GOLDEN MILLER's 1934 course record by almost 20 seconds, it was the day a 40-runner spectacular was boiled down to a match between two horses.
The hare and the hound; little vs. large; local hero vs. the Aussie bruiser. Bill it however you like, when the talk turns to the clash between RED RUM and CRISP, hairs still stand up on the back of the neck.
For four miles, three furlongs and 150 yards on March 31, 1973, Richard Pitman looked like he would make Grand National history with the most spectacular front-running performance on Fred Winter-trained gelding CRISP. But, just the length of two cricket pitches from the finishing line, he was cut down by a horse most of the general public had scarcely heard of. How that was about to change.
The legend of three-time winner RED RUM and his charismatic trainer Ginger McCain was born, and with it a focal point for the survival of a race that was threatening to slip away into the past tense.
CRISP had been a superstar runner in Australia but whose distance limitations were at about two miles was brought to Britain by his owner, Sir Chester Manifold.
RED RUM was the rising star. The underdog with a back story the media loved. An ex-cripple whose leg problems had been cured by workouts and paddles on Southport beach trained for his 84-year-old owner Noel Le Mare by ex-taxi driver and car salesman Donald McCain. If the build-up promised much, the race was extraordinary.
CRISP, ridden by jockey Richard Pitman, had the 1973 Grand National wrapped up a long way from home. As they completed the first circuit, they led their nearest contender GREY SOMBRERO by six lengths and the rest of the pack by 20. Then when SOMBRERO fell at the Chair the race was all but over. With two fences to jump, CRISP had a lead of 30 lengths, with a certain horse called RED RUM somewhere in the distance. Yet with so little left of the race, CRISP was to run out of gas. With just two strides left, RED RUM mowed him down and stole the show; CRISP and Pitman had missed their chance.
As Richard Pitman recalls, twenty-five lengths clear at Becher's second time and on to the Canal Turn, Pitman could hear events unfold in an eerie silence. He could pick up every word of commentator Michael O'Hehir on the long drag back to the grandstands. He glanced over his shoulder crossing the Melling Road and spotted RED RUM and jockey Brian Fletcher still galloping. It was only when CRISP turned for home that Pitman started to get uneasy.
He said, "He started to feel heavier in my hands. The legs started to go sideways instead of forward, then all of a sudden his ears were like a rabbit's. I could hear RED RUM coming - the noise of his galloping hooves on the fast ground and his breathing. It doesn't get any easier watching because my basic juvenile mistake is highlighted - letting go of his head when going for my stick between the last fence and the elbow. In those conditions you should keep hold of a horse's head."
As CRISP hung off a straight line, RED RUM surged. A real-life slow motion finish turned into agony for Pitman, who was a good friend of McCain's and had sent him a good luck note before the race. Crossing the line, RED RUM was three-quarters of a length in front - possibly the most important three-quarters of a length in horseracing history.
With uncertainty looming over Aintree, bookmakers milked the McCain and RED RUM factor, a new owner took over the track - and a rescue package took shape. Aintree and the Grand National were lucky RED RUM appeared; it's been said Ginger McCain helped save the Grand National from sliding into obscurity and possibly worse by having RED RUM thrust the race back into the public consciousness.
But 1973 was not the end of the CRISP-RED RUM saga. They met again, both carrying 12 stone over three miles at Doncaster, at the start of the following season (1974). CRISP won by 10 lengths but broke down and never raced again. Everyone remembers 1973 at Aintree but few remember that race at Doncaster.
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|Category:||National Hunt / Jumps / Steeplechase|