FOR all her successes as a racehorse owner, and they were considerable, Lurline Brotherton is probably best known for the one that got away. Every owner who gets involved in the sport will always have some tale of missed opportunity, but hers was on a grand scale: she was the woman who sold Red Rum.
Her trainer Bobby Renton bought Red Rum in 1968 after the horse had run frequently on the Flat. Even though he won eight times in all over jumps for her, Red Rum was suffering from arthritis in his feet and was sold at the Doncaster sales for 6,000 guineas to the trainer Ginger McCain on behalf of Noel Le Mare.
The magic of the Grand National was nowhere better illustrated than in the tale of Red Rum, whose new handler stabled his horses behind his car salesroom and trained them on Southport beach, something which undoubtedly helped Red Rum with his problems - and to a record three victories in the Grand National.
But at least Lurline Brotherton had enjoyed success at Aintree before she sold Red Rum. Freebooter, who won the big race in 1950, was one of her first purchases - and without doubt one of her best. He was something of an Aintree stalwart, winning the Grand Sefton Chase under top weight in 1949 before carrying 11st 11lb when beating Wot No Sun by 15 lengths in the following year's National.
With more than 200 victories over jumps, Brotherton was one of the most significant owners of her era. Most of her success was shared with the Ripon trainer Bobby Renton, with whom she first teamed up in 1945. While her main objective was to win the Grand National, her horses were generally as successful at Cheltenham as they were at Aintree. In the same season that Freebooter won the Grand National, 1949-50, she won the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Blue Raleigh. The big wins of those two horses meant she was champion jumps owner that season. Another Cheltenham winner came a year later with Cushendun in the National Hunt Chase, while her biggest Festival winner was Prudent Barney who won the Cotswold Chase, since renamed the Arkle, in 1962. Two years later he gave his owner another Cheltenham win in the National Hunt Chase.
She was born Lurline Elliot-Pyle, the daughter of an army officer, in 1902, and married Charles Brotherton, an industrialist and philanthropist, in 1938, but was widowed in 1949. Her son David is a member of the Jockey Club, while her daughter Ann Henson has also proved a successful owner, her best horses including the Ayr Gold Cup winner Able Albert.