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Grand National memories: Red Marauder wins in 2001 quagmire

| 21.03.2015

With the foot and mouth epidemic wiping out the 2001 Cheltenham Festival, the racing world looked to Aintree to provide a pick-me-up with the Grand National.

The ground was forecast to start the meeting as Good, Good to Soft in places; however, the rain came. By the end of the first day, it was soft all over. Going on Merseyside got steadily worse as the meeting progressed, and the weather did not relent. By Saturday, the ground was heavy with standing water on parts of the track as well.

Punters went out to back the proven mudlarks in the shape of Edmond, Moral Support and Inis Cara; the latter having moved to Venetia Williams and was subject to a major gamble with all three starting 10/1 co-favourites.

A few people backed Red Marauder on the basis of the ground, but he had fallen the previous year and it was feared his jumping wouldn’t hold up.

Inevitably, there was plenty of carnage. Edmond led the field early on with Beau and Merry People, whilst mayhem ensued in behind. Inis Cara was an early casualty as he turned a somersault at the fourth fence, and Merry People unseated at the Foinavon.

The Canal Turn was where the most fallers tumbled. As the leaders took the fence, the riderless Paddy’s Return, who had got rid of Adrian Maguire at the third fence, decided to run across the fence wiping out future winner Amberleigh House and several others including Moral Support.

Going back onto the racecourse proper Edmond led a dozen others, but his race came to an end when galloping straight into the Chair, whilst Moondigua sent Shay Barry into orbit as he went straight into the ditch. This left Beau in front leading six others out onto the second circuit, with the likes of Smarty, Blowing Wind, Red Marauder and Papillion still in with a chance.

The riderless Edmond was next to cause grief as he took out Blowing Wind, Papillion and the veteran Brave Highlander, which left three in the race. However, with rein problems, Carl Llewellyn was next to leave the race as Beau clouted the 20th and gave his rider no chance. Amusing shots of him trying to chase the horse as he jumped the next fence are something to behold.

This left the National as a duel between Red Marauder and Smarty. The former had made several jumping errors and almost lost Richard Guest at the fourth last, which gifted Smarty a five length lead.

But he began to tire and the resolve of Red Marauder came to the fore as he galloped on over the last few fences to record a famous victory in horrendous conditions. Further back behind Smarty in second, both Blowing Wind and Papillion had remounted to collect place prize money, Tony McCoy determined to finally complete the course after failing on all previous outings.

Relive all the carnage from 2001 below:



Adam Webb