Red Rum still pulls the crowds at Aintree

Racing: Aintree
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The Independent Online


Aintree will not stage a card until the middle of next month, but the course's doors were thrown open yesterday to allow the public to pay their respects to Red Rum, who was buried by the Grand National winning post after his death on Wednesday.

Throughout the day, a stream of Red Rum's fans, many carrying wreaths, made their way to the low, white picket-fence which marks his grave, to pay their respects to the greatest horse in Grand National history. Among them was Jackie Grainger, now 76, who was the head lad at Ginger McCain's stable when the horse arrived there in 1972. "He won nine handicaps in the three and a half years I was there, including his first Grand National and the Scottish National," he said. "He was a great horse and I am a proud man to have been associated with him."

On the Aintree grandstand, the flag was flying at half-mast, while the course executive will consider a permanent tribute to Red Rum. "There will definitely be a memorial to him here," Joe McNally, the track's marketing manager, said. "We will take our time to make sure we plan something fitting." It also seems certain that a race will be named in his honour.

On a day when punters were prepared to visit a track which was not racing, the Horris Hill Stakes card at Newbury was always going to be low-key. The Group Three feature race, which features on the CVs of Kris and Tirol, was won by Tumbleweed Ridge, who was beaten only narrowly by the excellent Royal Applause in the Gimcrack at York and was runner-up to Even Top in his latest race at Newmarket. Despite his narrow defeat of Busy Flight yesterday, though, only Brian Meehan, his trainer, seriously believes that the son of Indian Ridge has a live chance in next year's 2,000 Guineas.

Meehan has backed his colt for the Classic at 100-1 and 66-1, but even after putting some black type against his name, the bookmakers have cut him no further than 40-1. "He'd had a hard race in the Gimcrack and went to Newmarket a gallop short, but this is exciting," Meehan said. "Provided everything goes all right I'm sure he will be a Guineas horse next year."

The sadness and gestures of respect which followed the death of Red Rum, not to mention the thoughtful dignity with which he was interred at Liverpool, have reflected great credit on British racing. There is less for the sport to celebrate in Australia, though, where a major administrative body has been relieved of its responsibilities following allegations of corruption and race-fixing.

Richard Face, the racing minster for New South Wales, announced yesterday that a new body, the NSW Thoroughbred Council, will replace the Australian Jockey Club as the state's governing body. "A report has revealed widespread corruption and fraud," Face said. "The carnival is now over for these people." He added that his action was necessary to retain public confidence in the sport. A man in his position, however, should surely be familiar with the old saying about horses and stable doors.