Red Rum Wins The 1973 Grand National (or What Happened The Day I Was Born
A new oil painting depicting the moment Red Rum wins the 1973 Grand National.
The 1973 Grand National was the 127th renewal of the world-famous Grand National horse race that took place at the Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England, on 31 March 1973.
The race is best remembered for being the first of Red Rum’s three Grand National wins, doing so in record time, and for his remarkable defeat of Crisp on the run-in, having trailed by 15 lengths at the final fence.
Just a furlong to run now, 200 yards now for Crisp, and Red Rum is still closing on him! Crisp is getting very tired, and Red Rum is pounding after him. Red Rum is the one who’s finishing the strongest. He’s going to get up! Red Rum is going to win the National. At the line Red Rum has just snatched it from Crisp!
Commentator Peter O’Sullevan describes the climax of the 1973 National
Before the off, Red Rum was 9/1 joint-favourite with Crisp to win the race. However, by the time the runners had reached The Chair the Australian chaser Crisp, who was carrying the top weight of 12 stone, had already built up a significant lead and appeared unstoppable. For much of the initial stages, Crisp’s closest challenger was Bill Shoemark on Grey Sombrero, but he fell at The Chair, giving Crisp an even greater lead which had grown to 20 lengths by the end of the first circuit.
Crisp’s jockey Richard Pitman later recalled that at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit, fallen jockey David Nicholson shouted at him: “Richard, you’re 33 lengths clear, kick on and you’ll win!” At the same time, he heard the Tannoy commentator Michael O’Hehir declare: “And Red Rum is coming out of the pack, Brian Fletcher is kicking him hard!”
At the 30th and final fence, Crisp was still 15 lengths ahead of Red Rum, ridden by Fletcher and given 10 stone 5 lb by the handicapper. However, Crisp was beginning to tire badly on the 494-yard run-in, carrying 23 lb more than his nearest rival. Red Rum made up considerable ground, and two strides from the finishing post he pipped Crisp by a mere three-quarters of a length, in a then-record time of nine minutes, 1.9 seconds (a record which would stand until it was beaten in the 1990 Grand National).
The third horse, L’Escargot, who would win the National two years later, was 25 lengths adrift at the finish.
There was one equine fatality during the race when Grey Sombrero fell at The Chair whilst leading the pursuit of Crisp. He suffered a broken leg and was euthanised, becoming the first fatal casualty of the Grand National since Vulcano in 1967. Grey Sombrero is one of three horses to have been fatally injured while jumping The Chair in the Grand National (the others were Land Lark in 1975 and Kintai in 1979).
1973 is often considered among the greatest Grand Nationals of all time, and the dramatic final-stretch battle between the two greats Crisp and Red Rum has also been described as one of the greatest sporting moments.
The painting is significant in that the date on which the event occurred was the artist’s birthday: March 31st, 1973, and thus begins a new, ongoing series of artwork that sees significant events in his life so far recorded as paintings.