Saturday 18 August 2018

Grand National 1975 Winner: L’Escargot Beats Red Rum 

L’Escargot – whose name translates, ironically, as “The Snail” – had finished third, beaten 25¾ lengths, behind Red Rum in the 1973 Grand National, when conceding 23lb and second, beaten 8 lengths, behind the same horse in the 1974 Grand National, when receiving 1lb. In 1975, as a 12-year-old veteran running in what was almost certainly his last Grand National, he was set to receive 11lb from his old rival and looked to have been given a real chance by the handicapper. Nevertheless, Red Rum, who was attempting an unprecedented hat-trick in the marathon steeplechase, started favourite at 7/2, with L’Escargot clear second favourite at 13/2. 

Trainer Dan Moore had taken the unusual step of running L’Escargot in the Two-Mile Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on his final outing before the Grand National but, to his credit, on his favoured soft ground, he had finished fifth behind Lough Inagh. After a wet spring, the going at Aintree was also soft but, even so, L’Escargot nearly parted company with jockey Tommy Carberry as early as the fence after Becher’s Brook – a plain fence, just 4ft 6in high, nowadays known as Foinavon – on the first circuit. 

On the second circuit, it was the fence before Becher’s Brook or, rather, the fall of High Ken at the fence, that caused L’Escargot a problem but, having narrowly avoided calamity for the second time, he moved alongside Red Rum, travelling easily, approaching the third last fence. The pair matched strides crossing the Melling Road, but Carberry didn’t ask L’Escargot for his after until after the final fence, which he and Red Rum jumped together. When he did, though, L’Escargot sprinted clear to win by 15 lengths, with Spanish Steps third, a further 8 lengths away. 

In the words of both trainer and jockey, L’Escargot “hacked up”, taking his revenge on Red Rum and, in so doing, becoming just the second horse, after Golden Miller, to win the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Owner Raymond Guest, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, described winning the National as, “the biggest thrill of my life, the biggest excitement” and promptly announced the retirement of L’Escargot whom, he said, would spend the rest of his life with Dan Moore. However, L’Escargot didn’t adapt well to retirement, so Moore ran him in the Kerry National at Listowel, in which he finished third, the following September. However, Guest took exception to the horse running again and shipped him to his Powhatan Plantation in Virginia, where he died, at the age of 21, in 1984.


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