Any racing fans will know Aintree Racecourse and anyone who’s been to Aintree will know the breathtaking statue of the legendary steeplechaser, Red Rum, the unmatched three-times winner of the Grand National.
The statue was installed in 1987, ten years after the horse’s third win, and is the work of former jockey, Philip Blacker.
Philip’s first personal experience of Red Rum was of ‘his backside’, as the incredible horse pulled away from him in the 1973 Grand National. Philip had high hopes that his horse, Spanish Steps a ‘very good horse’, would gallop to victory. Not so. Red Rum pulled off a brilliant win, coming from 30 lengths behind to overtake the field, whilst poor Spanish Steps trailed in fourth.
“He was a terrific horse, very very charismatic. He had the intelligence of man in him”
~ Philip Blacker
Once Philip retired from the sport, he turned his full attention to what had been his hobby, sculpting. The Red Rum commission was to make his name in the art world.
Red Rum was known as the people’s horse, opening supermarkets, appearing on mugs, posters, playing cards and jigsaw puzzles, and that was what Philip wanted to capture. After seeing the retired racer cantering joyfully on Southport Sands, Philip knew he didn’t want to sculpt the horse sprinting to a legendary finish, or in the classic standing pose.
“He was jig-jogging with a high-head carriage, and I was trying to capture his spirit,” Philip said.
Red Rum died in 1995 at thirty years old and is buried at Ainstree’s winning post. Philip’s sculpture enables horse and racing fans to connect with the popular equine champion decades after his death.
The sculpture is now 45 years old and is in need of TLC. Last week Talos collected Red Rum and, with the skillful and patient help of James from F G Bond of Chippenham, he was taken back to our foundry for structural repairs, a complete refresh and repatination.