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1973 Grand National
Saturday 31st March 1973

At 3:15pm on Saturday 31st March 1973 at Aintree Racecourse, the horses and jockeys lined up for The 1973 Grand National. The flag goes up and "They're Off" shouted the commentator. Rouge Autumn and Sunny Lad were fast away on the inside, while Go-Pontinental moved up on the outside with Beggar's Way, close behind the leaders came Black Secret, General Symons, Richeleau and Glenkiln. Approaching the first fence Crisp had moved right up to the lead with Sunny Lad on the inside, over on the far side Hurricane Rock, Mill Door, Endless Folly, Beggar's Way, Black Secret and Rogue Autumn were all disputing it.

As they jump the first, John Hanmer takes up the commentary: 'Black Secret is over in the lead. There's a faller - Richelieu has gone at the first - and as they go towards the second, Grey Sombrero's on the outside with Ashville, Glenkiln and Black Secret, these are closely followed by General Symons and Highland seal... over the ditch and Grey Sombrero is over first, there's a faller Ashville has fallen at the ditch.

Glenkiln and Red Rum clear Becher's Brook Julian Wilson a skilled television interviewer takes up the commentary: They're spread right across the course with Grey Sombrero the leader over that one, from Endless Folly in the centre, Black Secret towards the outside, Highland Seal just scrambled over that one. Crisp is right up there on the inside, as they race down towards the fifth. Heading towards Becher's Brook for the first time, it's the grey, Grey Sombrero, racing wide of the field, the clear leader from Crisp in second and Black Secrets third. Over Becher's Grey Sombrero's over from Crisp in second Black Secret third, Endless Folly fourth, fifth is Sunny Lad, sixth is Rouge Autumn, and seventh is Beggar's Way and he's down - Beggar's way has fallen at Becher's. Over the next and its Crisp who's taken up the running, Crisp from Grey Sombrero, Black Secret Endless Folly... then comes Spanish Steps. Highland Seal has been Pulled Up as they jump the next. Crisp is over it, followed by Grey Sombrero, Black Secret....

John Hanmer resumes the tale: As they go towards the next fence it's Crisp the clear leader from Grey Sombrero, Endless folly, Black Secret, then comes Great Noise, Sunny Lad, Rouge Autumn and Tarquin Bid. Behind Tarquin Bid are Red Rum, Spanish Steps, Hurricane Rock and Glenkiln, as they go across the Melling Road.

As they turn onto the racecourse, Peter O'Sullevan takes over the commentary: Crisp is well clear, over from Grey Sombrero who jumps it second, Endless Folly in third, these are followed by Great Noise, Black Secret, Rouge Autumn, Spanish Steps, Red Rum and sunny Lad. As they race towards the biggest fence on the course, The Chair, Red Rum was in 12th place and jumping well alongside him was Stable companion Glenkiln. Coming to the Chair now - Crisp, his ears pricked, jumps it beautifully in the lead - he pecked slightly but got away with it. Grey Sombrero's gone at that one, Glenkilns a faller... Over the Chair and then the water, Red Rum and Brian Fletcher improved five or six places very rapidly.

And Richard Pitman is over the next one on Crisp and what a fantastic ride he's having! I can't remember a horse so far ahead in the Grand National at this stage! Jumping that second was Red Rum, then Spanish Steps on the outside of Rouge Autumn, Great Noise made a mistake and got away with it, coming to the next the one before Becher's... Crisp is over safely clear of the rest of the field.

Over Becher's Brook for the second and final time Crisp the top weight is twenty lengths clear of the second horse which is Red Rum then Spanish Steps and Hurricane Rock. Crisp is over the twenty third already and racing down towards the Canal Turn still twenty lengths clear of Red Rum.

With three fences left to Jump John Hanmer takes over from Julian Wilson, 'Crisp has got three to jump, he's well clear of Red Rum, who's made a bit of ground. Spanish Steps is third, Hurricane Rock is passing Spanish Steps... As they go across Melling Road, with two to jump, it's Crisp with Red Rum in second place making ground and there's a very large gap after that to Hurricane Rock, Spanish steps and Rouge Autumn...' and over to Peter O'Sullevan.

'It's Crisp in the lead, with Red Rum in second and making ground! Crisp is still well clear with two fences to jump in the 1973 Grand National and this great Australian chaser Crisp with twelve stone on his back and ten stone five on the back of Red Rum, who's chasing him and they look to have it absolutely to themselves. At the second last... Crisp is over clear of Red Rum who's jumping it a long way back. In third is Spanish Steps fourth is Hurricane Rock followed by Rouge Autumn and L'Escargot. Coming to the final fence in the National now... and its Crisp still going in great style. He jumps it well; Red Rum is about fifteen lengths behind him as he jumps it. Crisp is coming to the elbow he's got two hundred and fifty yards to run.

Then suddenly things changed - Crisp is beginning to lose concentration. And Red Rum is making ground on him. They have a furlong to run now, two hundred yards now for Crisp, and Red Rum is still closing on him, and Crisp is getting very tired, and Red Rum is pounding after him and Red Rum is the one who finishes 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! And Red Rum is the winner! Crisp is second and L'Escargot is just coming up to be third...

RED RUM (The Extraordinary Story of A Horse of Courage) By Ivor Herbert


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