Grand National History 1979 - 1970
Aintree Grand National 1979
"Rubstic" and jockey Maurice Barnes won the 1979 Grand National with the pair fending off 1978 winning jockey Bob Davies, who finished second this time on "Zongalero". Thirty-four horses took the field, with only seven of those finishing the race. "Rough And Tumble" was one of those to finish, coming in third place followed by "The Pilgarlic" who finished fourth again, two years after doing so in 1977.
"Red Rum" was again supposed to take part and was now fourteen years old something, which was remarkable in it's self, but an injury shortly before the race kept him from competing. This left many disappointed including Ginger McCain who felt sure the horse would win. This same year jockey Bob Champion was diagnosed with having testicular cancer, which kept him from riding "Aldaniti" in the National. He would however recover and live his dream by winning on that horse in 1981.
Aintree Grand National 1978
For the first time since 1972 "Red Rum" would not participate in the Grand National after a minor ailment kept him out of the race in 1978. This left the thirty-seven runners a chance to shine as the nations favourite was sadly missed on the day and of those that did race "Lucius" and jockey Bob Davies shined the brightest. "Lucius" who began at 14-1 was quite highly fancied on the day and running under the instructions of Bob Davies, the horse owned by Fiona Whitaker and trained by Gordon Richards performed exceptionally well.
"Sebastian V" went on to finish second with jockey Mr. R Lamb, followed by "Drumroan" in third place and "Coolishall" ridden by jockey Mr. M O'Halloran as all three horses would never again finish as high as they did in the 1978 Grand National.
Aintree Grand National 1977
For the third and final time "Red Rum" won the Grand National in 1977, a feat which is unparalleled in racing history and may never be repeated, adding to the argument as to whether "Red Rum" is the greatest horse to race in the National. Tommy Stack was riding the horse for a second time in a National and at twelve years-old "Red Rum's" time was running out to win the event again. In fact at this stage of the horses racing career his calendar of events was mapped out to an extent to give him the best possible chance of a third victory.
"Red Rum" was still the top weight, but it had dropped to 11st 8lbs as he took to the field among forty-one other runners. He did not however have any problems in this year's race, taking the lead just after Becher's Brook and never looking back. If he had of looked back though, he would have seen "Churchtown Boy" who ran on to second place followed by "Eyecatcher" who finished third for a second year running with "Pilgarlic" in fourth.
1977 was also the first year a female jockey competed in the Grand National as Charlotte Brew who rode "Barony Fort" made an appearance with the horse failing for finish after refusing to jump with only four fences left.
Aintree Grand National 1976
"Rag Trade" won the 1976 Grand National ahead on "Red Rum" who for the second year finished as runner up and was now ridden by Tommy Stack. "Rag Trade" was ridden to victory by jockey John Burke as the pair started at 14-1 and carried 12lbs less than "Red Rum" who began at 10-1 and performed very well, even well enough to gaining on "Rag Trade" from a distance on the straight, but not well enough to win the race as the extra weight held him back.
"Rag Trade" was trained by Fred Rimell who won the Grand National for a fourth and final time and owned by Pierre Raymond who was winning the event for a second time some thirteen years after his first victory with "Ayala" back in 1963. The mare named "Eyecatcher" finished third in 1976 followed by 7-1 favourite "Barona" in fourth as sixteen of the thirty-two runners completed the course.
Aintree Grand National 1975
Tommy Carberry, who would later train 1999 winner "Bobbyjo" returned to win the 1975 Grand National again with "L'Escargot" following impressive positions of third in 1973 and second in 1974. The pair began at 13-2 and are one of only two horses to finish higher than "Red Rum" in a National, the other being "Rag Trade" in 1976.
"Red Rum" started 11lbs heavier than "L'Escargot" but ran well throughout the entire National, leading for much of it and only being pushed back into second near the end as the soft ground favoured "L'Escargot" the lighter horse. "Spanish Steps" finished third and had the unfortunate experience of his peak years coinciding with those of "Red Rum" and "L'Escargot", which otherwise may have seen the horse win the Aintree spectacular followed by "Money Market" in fourth.
Aintree Grand National 1974
The 1974 Grand National was won by "Red Rum" which was the horse's second victory in the event which the horse was again ridden by jockey Brian Fletcher, trained by Donald McCain and owned by Noel Le Mare. The horse was had high expectations for a repeat, but the odds had widened from 9-1 to 11-1 and "Red Rum" was no longer the favourite. This was largely due to the horse having to carry 12st, which due to the excessive weight helped build the relationship between horse and fans.
"Red Rum" became the first horse since "Reynoldstown" in 1935 and 1936 to win back-to-back Grand Nationals and was the first seen doing so live on TV as several of the more fancied horses for the previous year also finished well. Among them was the horse named "L'Escargot" with jockey Tommy Carberry in second, "Charles Dickens" in third and "Spanish Steps" again finishing fourth.
Aintree Grand National 1973
The most famous horse ever to race "Red Rum" won the 1973 Grand National. The horse, which would run in five Nationals winning three and finishing second in the other two was making his debut in the Grand National but not at Aintree as he had ridden on the course twice before, winning one race and finishing second the other time.
"Red Rum" began the 1973 Grand National as the 9-1 joint favourite to win and did so as one of only eleven horses to win the Grand National as a favourite this century, with jockey Brian Fletcher in the saddle. "Red Rum" had been behind eventual runner up and the other joint 9-1 favourite "Crisp" and jockey Richard Pitman who had lead virtually all the way and at one point was twenty lengths ahead of "Red Rum" before sheer determination helped the horse catch up and overtake in the last stride to win.
"L'Escargot" who would go on to beat "Red Rum" and win the 1975 Grand National finished third with jockey Tommy Carberry who would still be riding the horse two years later following in fourth by "Spanish Steps" as seventeen of thirty-eight starters would complete the course.
Aintree Grand National 1972
"Gay Trip" who won the 1970 Grand National returned to the top four in 1972, this time in second place with jockey Mr. T W Biddlecombe who was also returning to the top four with this being his third and finaly appearance amongst the group. The two finished behind winning jockey Graham Thorner and the 14-1 horse "Well To Do" who was trained and owned by Captain Tim Forster OBE.
Tim Forster would win three Grand Nationals and was a renowned pessimist who only declared "Well To Do" would run with fifteen minutes to spare as he was not sure whether the horse should be risked at Aintree. Tim would go on to train the 1980 Grand National winner Ben Nevis and to win again in 1985 with a horse called "Last Suspect".
1971 runner up "Black Secret" dropped a place in 1972 to finish third in a dead-heat with "General Symons" as only nine of forty-two horses completed the course.
Aintree Grand National 1971
A horse called "Specify" and jockey John Cook won the 1971 Grand National after the pair began at 28-1 and were not fancied to do all that well among the thirty-eight starters. The pair did however surpass expectations to finish ahead of the twelve other horses to complete the course followed by "Black Secret" in second who had also began with fairly long odds of 20-1. "Astbury" at 33-1 finished third with 66-1 horse "Bowgeeno" in fourth as the pair made up a group which were never expected to come close to winning the National.
Aintree Grand National 1970
The first Grand National of the 1970's was won by "Gay Trip" who along with runner up "Vulture" began the race at 15-1 as the pair would finish ahead of only five other horses which completed the race from the twenty-eight that started. "Gay Trip" was ridden by Pat Taaffe and trained by Fred Rimell who was winning his third Grand National with three different horses. Fred would go on to win his fourth six years later and is only one of two trainers to win four Nationals, Ginger McCain being the other.
The twenty-eight runners marked the first time since 1960 that fewer than thirty would race in a Grand National. The two horses to complete the group of four to finish first were "Miss Hunter" a 33-1 outsider ridden by Mr. F Shortt and "Dozo" who finished foiurth with 1969 winning jockey Eddie Harty.