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Red Rum 40

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the legendary Red Rum's third Grand National victory in 1977.

Now accepted as “The Saviour of Aintree”, Red Rum was one of the most popular racehorses of the 20th century, known to everyone, whether or not they were interested in racing.

A bay colt, bred to be a sprinter, he was foaled in 1965 in County Kilkenny, Ireland, and sold for 400 guineas as a yearling. He made his racecourse debut at Aintree on the Thursday before Foinavon’s win in 1967, when he deadheated for first place in a five-furlong Flat race.

Red Rum subsequently showed only modest promise and, after a long losing run and foot problems, he was sold at Doncaster Sales in 1972 for 6,000 guineas to a Birkdale-based second hand car dealer and part-time taxi driver, Donald “Ginger” McCain, on behalf of Noel Le Mare.

McCain’s horses were trained on nearby Southport sands and, because Red Rum showed sudden signs of lameness, he was sent paddling in the sea every day. The salt water worked a miracle and he was hardly ever lame again in his life. He began winning races (five chases within seven weeks) and started 9/1 joint favourite for the 1973 Grand National where, ridden by Brian Fletcher, who had already won the big race on Red Alligator in 1968, he beat gallant top-weight Crisp in a thrilling finish, both horses smashing the previous record time by 19 seconds.

The following year Red Rum and Fletcher triumphed again, carrying top-weight of 12 stone. The next year (1975) he again shouldered 12 stone, but was beaten by L’Escargot. In 1976, again with top-weight and this time ridden by Tommy Stack, he
went down to the winner Rag Trade.

Back for a fifth consecutive time in 1977, now 12 years old but still carrying topweight, Red Rum and Stack thrilled the racing world by winning an unprecedented third Grand National by a convincing 25 lengths. The crowds were back thanks to his performances which had captivated a nation. Interest in the race from sponsors was renewed and Aintree’s fortunes took an upward swing.

Red Rum retired in 1978 and spent the rest of his life with McCain. He became a huge celebrity, travelling the country opening countless betting shops, supermarkets and garden fetes and even switched on the Blackpool Illuminations. Each year he returned to Aintree to lead the parade before the Grand National.

Red Rum died in Cheshire on October 18, 1995, aged 30, and is buried at the winning post on Aintree Racecourse, which is still a place of pilgrimage. His death made the front pages of all the national newspapers and, in a survey 11 years later, he was still voted the best-known horse in Britain.


We’ll be bringing the celebrations for Red Rum’s anniversary to life in April at the Randox Health Grand National Festival. For the occasion, the Red Rum Garden will be completely themed around Aintree’s hero and you’ll have the chance to travel back in time to the ‘70s when Ginger McCain trained the legendary racehorse along the shores of Southport Beach. Whether you know the story of Red Rum or not, our Southport Sands 4D Experience will capture your imagination through sight, sound and even smell!

There will be plenty of activities in the Red Rum Garden, including the following:

Green Screen

Become part of the Red Rum’s iconic story and have your picture taken ‘riding’ the legendary Grand National treble winner to victory, or bring your friends along to get a photo cheering him on as he crosses the finish line. You’ll be able to upload your picture to social media instantly and take away your very own printed copy as memento.


Get nostalgic and look back at Red Rum’s iconic story. Reminisce about the historic moments, learn about his successes and watch the original footage of the legendary racehorse in action, all showcased on a retro 7.5 tonne horse box. And don’t worry about missing the any action, live races will also be broadcast on the screen too.


Whether you know the story of Red Rum or not, our Southport Sands 4D Experience will capture your imagination through sight, sound and even smell. This is our tribute to the legendary racehorse and to Ginger McCain who trained him along the shores of Southport Beach in the 1970s.