IT’S the Grand National at Aintree today (Saturday) and although the Isle of Wight is hundreds of miles from Aintree, we have had some of the Grand National’s greatest heroes visit during the past 45 years.

In 1980, Islanders flocked to the Isle of Wight County Show at Northwood to see not one, but two Grand National heroes, who had both won in the 1970s, but had never met on a racecourse.

Scroll through the gallery of images above to see more pictures of the famous racehorses...

The first was Red Rum — the only horse ever to have won three Grand Nationals in 1973, 1974 and 1977 — while the second was Specify, the 1971 winner.

Red Rum’s first victory in 1973 was legendary, as he was ten lengths behind the great Australian chaser, Crisp, at the last fence, yet he battled on to force his head in front just 40 yards before the line.

Isle of Wight County Press: A County Press clipping showing Red Rum meeting the crowds when he visited the Isle of Wight in 1980. Photo: IWCP Archive.A County Press clipping showing Red Rum meeting the crowds when he visited the Isle of Wight in 1980. Photo: IWCP Archive.

Both horses smashed the course record by some 19 seconds — it was previously held by Golden Miller, the horse who had won five Cheltenham Gold Cups in the 1930s.

Red Rum’s new record stood until 1990. Rummy went on to win under top weight in 1974, and was then placed second in 1975 and 1976, before carrying top weight to victory again in 1977.

Red Rum paraded in John Street, Ryde, prior to arriving at the County Show in 1980, where a guess the weight of the racehorse competition was held, which raised money for Haylands Farm, Ryde, and had a grand prize of a weekend for two in Paris.

Visitors to the 1983 County Show were fortunate to see two more Grand National heroes — Aldaniti and his jockey, Bob Champion,who won the 1981 race.

This pair were famous for winning against all odds — Aldaniti had previously been crippled by leg injuries not once, but three times, while Bob had been to the brink of death with cancer prior to their win.

The pair visited the Isle of Wight as part of their work for the new Bob Champion Cancer Trust.

Bob signed many autographs for Islanders that day, including some in the pages of his new book, Champion’s Story.

The 1971 winner, Specify, was very much the Isle of Wight's own Grand National horse.

He was a familiar sight in West Wight, because he lived out his retirement in the grounds of Farringford Hotel, Freshwater, which was owned by his owner, Sir Fred Pontin, of Pontins holiday camps fame.

The 1971 Grand National was one of the most competitive finishes ever, with five horses in the air over the last fence together, but it was Specify who gained the upper hand by just a neck over Black Secret.

As a young horse, Specify was bought for £300 by Arthur Freeman, a former royal jockey, who had previously won the Grand National on Mr What in 1958.

Aged four, Specify won three successive events, but aged six, he broke a bone in his head when he fell during a race.

He made a comeback and was sold in early 1970 for £12,000 to Fred Pontin.

Fred entered Specify in the 1970 Grand National, but he was brought down at Bechers Brook on the second circuit.

After being sent to trainer John Sutcliffe, Specify returned for the 1971 National, and was 14th in the betting at 28-1.

Things were looking hopeful for the owner, trainer and jockey and there were many fallers in the early stages of the 1971 Grand National, including favourite, Gay Trip, who had won the previous year.

Specify was well placed behind the tearaway leaders and managed to hold his position as more continued to fall by the wayside.

The tension at the last fence was almost unbearable, as Specify was the last of the group of five horses who jumped the final fence in unison — but timed his winning run to perfection.

Specify’s form was moderate when he entered the 1972 race and he remained in contention until the second Becher’s, but only managed to come sixth out of nine finishers.

According to County Press reports, he retired in 1972 and arrived on the Isle of Wight in September 1978, where a champagne reception at Farringford was held in his honour.

He was greeted by his former jockey, John Cook, Mrs M. Topham, who was the former Aintree course owner, and showjumpers David and Marion Mould (nee Coakes)— herself an Olympic silver medallist with Stroller in 1968 — who were regular visitors to the Island.

Specify died in the 1980s and was buried at Farringford.

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