Sadly, Fletcher's partnership with Red Rum ended amid acrimony in 1976 following a disagreement with the trainer, Ginger McCain. A year later, Red Rum won at Liverpool again, under Tommy Stack.
Red Rum is 29 now and still, incredibly, fulfilling public engagements. Last week, at a charity event in Yorkshire, he and Fletcher met again for the first time in more than 10 years. 'It was a bit sad,' Fletcher said. 'He has deteriorated so much physically he is like an old man, haggard and drawn.'
Fletcher was sidelined for 10 months after sustaining a skull fracture in 1972 and the Red Rum story almost did not happen. 'I had to go to Portman Square three times before I got my licence back,' he said.
Now 45, Fletcher farms sheep and breeds Welsh Cobs near Bishop Auckland, a few miles from his birthplace in Staindrop.
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