After the drama of the recent Aintree Grand National, Stan McCormack reflects on L’Escargot’s magnificent win in 1975 when he emulated the great Gordon Miller

After 17 years of failure, Ireland won the Aintree Grand National in 1975 with one of the most remarkable steeplechasers in our history, when Raymond Guest’s horse L’Escargot won the race.

The horse won two Cheltenham Gold Cups in 1970/71; won the Grand National in 1975 (he had been twice placed) defeating Red Rum; and also won the Meadow Brook Chase in the USA for his owner former American Ambassador Raymond Guest, and became American Champion Chaser.

Aside from Golden Miller he was the only horse to win the Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National. He is probably best remembered because his name means ‘The Snail’ or because he prevented Red Rum winning three-in-a-row.

Barbara and Arthur O’Neill, Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath, bred Mr What to win the Grand National in 1958, and remarkably Arthur also bred the next Irish horse to win the race, when L’Escargot won in 1975.

Through a mare called Duchess of Padula, and a filly she produced called What A Daisy, Mr What and L’Escargot were directly related (apparently, Mr What got his name because nobody could think of a name for him!)

Amazingly, L’Escargot was originally purchased for 950 guineas by former jump jockey Jimmy Brogan, who tragically, died a few days later.

His widow held on to the horse until 1966, when he was snapped up as a 3 y/o at the Ballsbridge Sales for 3,500 guineas by Irish trainer Dan Moore to race for one of his regular owners Raymond Guest, former American Ambassador to Ireland.

When L’Escargot won the Aintree Grand National in 1975, Raymond Guest, having already won two Gold Cups, achieved a unique record as he had already won the Epsom Derby in 1962 with Larkspur and again with Sir Ivor in 1967.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own