The 1976 Grand National was a chance for Red Rum to make history. He’d won two Grand National titles and was second a year earlier in his bid to become the first horse ever to win three. The talk was that this would be his last chance to land three.
Unfortunately, he didn’t, but as we know, history was made a year later. We still saw history in 76, though, as Fred Rimell trained his fourth Grand National winner. This was a record that wasn’t matched until Red Rum’s trainer, Donald “Ginger” McCain, landed his fourth win with Amberleigh House in 2004.
Back in the day, though, and the winning horse was Rag Trade, a horse who had a strange Grand National career, to say the least, but ultimately, he is in the record books as a winner of the race, not too many can say that.
|Result||Horse||Starting Price||Age||Handicap||Prize Money||Jockey||Trainer|
|1||Rag Trade||14/1||10||10-12||£37,420||John Burke||Thomas Frederic Rimell|
|2||Red Rum||10/1||11||11-10||£11,410||Tommy Stack||Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain|
|3||Eyecatcher||28/1||10||10-7||£5,630||Brian Fletcher||J R Bosley|
|4||Barona||7/1||10||10-6||£2,740||Paul Kelleway||Roddy C Armytage|
|5||Ceol-Na-Mara||22/1||7||10-6||-||Jeremy Glover||Stan Mellor|
|6||The Dikler||25/1||13||11-7||-||Ron Barry||Fulke T Walwyn|
|7||Sandwilan||100/1||8||10-00||-||Ron Hyett||J S Wright|
|8||Spittin Image||66/1||10||10-00||-||Andy Turnell||Michael J Scudamore Snr|
|9||Spanish Steps||22/1||13||10-2||-||Jeff King||E R Courage|
|10||Black Tudor||50/1||8||10-00||-||Graham Thorner||G Kindersley|
|11||Churchtown Boy||33/1||9||10-6||-||Taffy Salaman||M Salaman|
|12||Highway View||33/1||11||10-10||-||Pat Black||J Cox|
|13||Jolly's Clump||12/1||10||10-3||-||Ian Watkinson||H Thomson-Jones|
|14||Money Market||12/1||9||11-00||-||Bob Champion||C Bewicke|
|15||Colondine||60/1||9||10-00||-||Brian Forsey||I M Dudgeon|
|16||Indian Diva||100/1||9||10-3||-||Nicky Henderson||John Thorne|
What Happend In The 1976 Grand National?
Exactly half of the field managed to complete the Grand National course in 1976, with 16 of the 32 runners getting around the demands of Aintree. They weren’t as bad as usual, helped by ground described as good.
The winner was Rag Trade, who came away to win by a few lengths, ahead of Red Rum, who finished in second place for the second consecutive year. The general feeling is that Red Rum was hampered by the weight on his back, carrying almost a stone more than the winner, though trainer Ginger McCain was unsure whether his jockey Tommy Stack used the right tactics on their horse and if the outcome would have been different with a slight change of approach.
Red Rum was held onto by Stack and made his challenge at the final fence. By this time, Rag Trade had got first run and was well clear. The weight on his back, coupled with being tired, left Red Rum simply unable to reel him in.
That shouldn’t take anything away from the winner, though, he was a strong stayer up the run in and deserved his success. He was in the race a year earlier but could only manage 10th, this time around, he looked a stronger stayer and jumped better, too, clearly putting his Aintree experience to good use.
Of course, trainer Fred Rimell knew what was required to win the race after doing so on three other occasions, so he clearly had no problem with putting the horse back in there for a second attempt a year later. Crucially, the horse was transferred to Rimell in the season of his win, perhaps being the main reason for the success, going to someone who knew what winning the Grand National took.
History Made But Not With Red Rum
In 1975, people flocked to Aintree in the hope of witnessing history, but ultimately, they left the track disappointed at the outcome, with Red Rum finishing second. Twelve months on and in 1976, the exact same happened again.
Red Rum ran well, he put up a brave effort, and finishing second was a massive achievement for the horse, given the weight on his back, but people wanted more. By the time this race came around, Red Rum was already well-loved by the public, everyone wanted him to succeed, even those who had placed a bet against him.
History was still there, though, with trainer Fred Rimell. He was training his fourth Grand National winner, at the time, a record-breaking winner. The scoop of four winners was eventually equalled, and it was Red Rum’s trainer Ginger McCain who did that in 2004 when Amberleigh House won the race.
That added to the three wins of Red Rum and took him up to four wins, joining Rimell. It was done in a different fashion by Rimell, he did it all with four different runners, kicking off with ESB in 1956. After that, he won the race again with Nicolaus Silver in 1961 and followed that up with Gay Trip winning in 1970.
The fourth and final winner of his career was Rag Trade, in 1976, taking Fred Rimell to become one of the best Grand National trainers of all time, a man who had a genuine love and understanding of the race.
McCain Rues National Defeat In Later Interview
There was a final twist to the tale of this race, which came over a decade after the running, 11 years after, to be precise. During an interview, Ginger McCain said that the 1976 race was the one that he believed Red Rum should have won and given himself a total of four wins in the race.
He was, of course, saying this on the back of three wins, including one for jockey Tommy Stack, so it is an easy position to be in when talking this way. However, he was very critical of the tactics used by Stack in the race. Holding onto the horse until the final flight, Stack tried to keep something in the locker for a late push, which the horse had, but by the time he really got going, the winner Rag Trade was simply too far ahead, and Red Rum couldn’t close.
In the interview, McCain described that he would have liked to have seen the horse kick clear five fences from home. This would have brought stamina more into play, which he believes would have been a positive, allowing Red Rum to draw out the sting and make the others struggle.
That didn’t happen, but it does sound very similar to how the race unfolded in 1977, a year later, when Red Rum was able to bag his third Grand National victory.
Moments Of Note
- Red Rum won centre of attention but was unable to win the race, finishing second again here, to go with his 2nd place from a year earlier
- We did see history made still, though, as Fred Rimell became the first trainer to train four horses to win the Grand National, doing it by getting four different animals to cross the line in first place
- With good conditions, half of the field, 16 out of 32, were able to complete the race