Monday, July 1, 2013

Red Rum- Master of Aintree

One of the greatest Thoroughbred Racehorses of all time. Is the gallant Red Rum. The writers in Hollywood. Could not of made the Cinderella story of Red Rum. Even close to being as dramatic. As it actually happened in real life.

Red Rum was a Irish Bred who was foaled May 3 1965. Red Rum's father was Quorum. Who was at his best running the mile distance. Red Rum mother was "Mared". Who was a failure as a racehorse. Mared first foal was Red Rum. The rest of her offspring. Did not fair very well on the racetrack.

Red Rum career did not get off to a very dramatic start as he won his first race a the 5 furlong distance. Barely winning facing mediocre company by a desperate nose. When Red Rum got older, and continued to struggle with the shorter speed based races. Red Rum's handlers made the decision to convert him to Steeplechase racing. In these races. Speed is not required. The ability to jump and to have the heart and stamina. To complete at the marathon distances are the necessary skills. Red Rum did show early promise. Competing in his new equine sport. However after suffering a serious hoof injury. His life and racing career now looked in jeopardy.

Enter Ginger McCain. Struggling horse trainer from Southport England. Who was supplementing his income. By selling used cars, and driving a taxi. To make financial ends meet. Enter Mr. Noel Le Mare. The 84 year old horse owner. Who had accomplished everything he ever sought after in his life. Except owning the winner of a Grand National Steeplechase. The toughest horse-race to win. In the world of horse racing.

Ginger McCain and Noel Le Mare met. As Noel Le Mare would be a regular passenger in Ginger McCain's cab. They would talk horse racing. Soon a friendship would develop between both men. To the point. That Mr. Le Mare now wanted Ginger McCain to train a horse for him. By this time Red Rum had recovered from his serious hoof injury. However his connections had now decided to give up on him. And put Red Rum into a auction sale. Fate works in strange ways. As Ginger McCain showed up at the sale. With money to buy a steeplechase prospect for Mr. Noel Le Mare in 1972. Ginger McCain did select and purchased Red Rum for Mr. Le Mare.

Because Ginger McCain was a struggling trainer. He galloped and trained all his racehorses on the beach in Southport. This was perfect news for Red Rum. Who was still trying to resume his racing career after suffering the serious hoof injury. In fact when Ginger McCain started to train Red Rum. He did have some concern about Red Rum soundness. After returning from a gallop showing signs of lameness. Ginger McCain had his exercise rider stroll Red Rum into the sea. The cold salt water had now cured anymore problems with the injured hoof. It was now time for Red Rum career to take flight. Now it was time for magic!!!

The Grand National Steeplechase. Run at "Aintree" Racecourse. Located in Liverpool, England. Is one of the toughest horse races ever devised. The distance is 4 1/2 miles. The horses are also required to also complete 30 jumps. That are part of this true test of endurance and courage. The horses that compete in the Grand National. Are required to complete two circuits of Aintree. Do decide who the winner will be.

During the Spring 1973 Steeplechase season in England. Red Rum had started to show signs of becoming a star. To the point where he was now one of the major contenders to compete in the 1973 Grand National. This race in 1973. Was truly the beginning one of the best stories in the history of professional athletics. During the race. Red Rum moved up after the first circuit and started to hound the front runner "Chrisp". Who was a champion steeplechaser form Australia. Who had opened a commanding lead. To the point where Chrisp had widened to a 15 length lead. Going into the final quarter mile in the race. It looked like Red Rum and his jockey Brian Fletcher were going to have to settle for second. However one of the greatest comebacks in sports history was about to take place. The final 1/16 of the race. Chrisp started to tire badly. Red Rum had keep up his pace. In the final few yards. Red Rum had won the Grand National in dramatic style, beating Chrisp by a head. The town of Southport had plenty to cheer about. There hometown based racehorse. Had just won the Grand National. Mr. Noel Le Mare's unfulfilled dream. Had finally come true!!!

However this fantastic story was just the beginning. For Red Rum was entered back in 1974 Grand National. As the favorite to win the race. Red Rum ran a flawless race. Winning the Grand National two years in a row. A very rare event. As it is so tough for a brave racehorse to finish the course at Aintree in the Grand National. Let alone win two in a row.

No horse had ever won the Grand National Steeplechase 3 times. Could Red Rum be the first to complete the hat trick. To accomplish the impossible. Red Rum would finish second in the Grand National in 1975 and 1976. In very determined and game efforts.

Red Rum the "Master of Aintree" would be back in 1977 for one final try to win his 3rd National. At this point in my life. I was a hard core horse racing fan. I was aware of Red Rum. However we received very little T.V. coverage of international racing in those days. However I was lucky to catch the 1977 Grand National Steeplechase. That was shown on "Wide World of Sports". I was treated to a special moment in horse racing and sports history. As Red Rum who was now completing at age 12. Took control of the 1977 Grand National. Pulling away to win by a good margin. Under the handling of jockey Tommy Stack. Who had replaced Brian Fletcher for the race. Aintree was packed with horse racing fans for what would be Red Rum's final Grand National. When Red Rum made the lead with two jumps to go in the race. The racing fans had become delirious with emotion. Red Rum run through the home stretch was electric! As he had won the Grand National 3 times! There was not a dry eye of anyone. Who was part of this great event. Red Rum was a rare equine athlete. Rummy was one of a kind!

Maxwell G- Iron Max!

Out of Chicago came another horse racing legend. A horse that was never going to compete or win a stakes race. But none the less horse racing fans loved and respected him very much!

His name was Maxwell G. He came from Washington State. Where he was foaled in 1962. Maxwell G never made the races until he was a 4 year old. When he finally broke his maiden in 1965. Through the late 1960's Maxwell G would turn into a very consistent claiming horse. Winning six races as a 6 year old from 24 starts. Then 5 winning races in 1969 from 29 starts. Durability and a late closing charge would become his trademark.

Then on September 22, 1970. Trainer Richard Hazelton claimed Maxwell G for $6,250. A great horse racing partnership had been formed. Creating a winning partnership. That would delight horsing fans for years to come. Richard Hazelton who was from Arizona. Had already established himself as a top Thoroughbred conditioner. A hoof problem that had been plaguing Maxwell G. Had to be corrected and constantly maintained for Max's racing career to continue to be successful. Trainer Richard Hazelton was up to the task. As Richard proved to be a highly prolific trainer. Who was known for a hands on approach to the horses under his care. Who also excelled at working with older racehorses. The Maxwell G. Richard Hazelton combination would combine for 31 wins from age 9 up to age 16.

Maxwell G won a race at Turf Paradise in Arizona at age 16. An age when most racehorses are retired or there lives have already ended.

Truly racing fans of the 1960's and 1970's. Were so lucky to have a colorful and long lasting racehorse in Maxwell G. Which truly made the "Sport of Kings" a very popular spectator sport in North America. Maxwell G. was also rewarded with having a book written in his honor, by L.M. Schorsch. Maxwell G. retired from racing in 1977. Having raced 233 times. Which included 47 wins, 52 seconds, and 39 thirds. For career earning of $181,420.

If is anybody who reads this post. That owns any video of Maxwell G winning one of his 47 races. Please post the video on YouTube. So all horse racing fans can enjoy the great memories!