Northern Ireland

L’Escargot to end Irish Hoodoo in National – On This Day in 1974

Irish horse bids to stop repeat victory by Red Rum at Aintree

L'Escargot, ridden by Tommy Carberry, was winner of the Grand National in 1975
L'Escargot Wins National L'Escargot, ridden by Tommy Carberry, was winner of the Grand National in 1975 (PA/PA)
March 30 1974

Fresh from their five-winner haul at the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, the Irish are all set to scream home L’Escargot, the spearhead of their six-horse challenge on the Grand National, the most coveted prize in the world of steeplechasing.

For the past fortnight they have been piling the cash on Dan Moore’s veteran chaser, hero of two Cheltenham Gold Cups, and the horse who was reckoned by many to be over the top two seasons ago can finally break the 16-year hoodoo that has hung over the Emerald Isle since 1958, when Mr What gave trainers a fourth success in six years. Not since then have Irish eyes been smiling at Aintree.

Following his failure to complete a hat-trick of Gold Cup successes, L’Escargot (French for snail) started favourite for the 1972 National, but had the misfortune to be baulked and knocked over before the race had even begun to take shape.

Twelve months later, he was back carrying top weight again, and after losing touch as Crisp set a blistering pace to his 37 rivals, L’Escargot had nearly as many in front of him as behind him at half-way. He was still only thirteenth jumping Beechers for the second time, but steadily threaded his way through the field, and at the end of nearly four and a half miles, was the clear winner of the race for the minor placing as Red Rum and Crisp fought for the real glory 25 lengths away.

Granted a trouble-free run, L’Escargot must be my choice to make it third time lucky and thwart top weight Red Rum’s bid to be the first dual National winner since Reynoldstown in 1935 and 1936.

L’Escargot did not stop Red Rum’s bid for a second Grand National in 1974, but thwarted a third consecutive victory the following year. Red Rum, after coming second in 1975 and 1976, won his unprecedented third Grand National in 1977.
(L-R) John Cushnahan, Oliver Napier and David Cook. Picture by Brendan Murphy
(L-R) John Cushnahan, Oliver Napier and David Cook. Picture: Brendan Murphy
Now All Can Work Together

The agreed recognition of Northern Ireland’s status was hailed yesterday by the Alliance Party leader, Mr Oliver Napier, as even more dramatic and far-reaching than power-sharing, Sunningdale or the new Assembly.

Addressing delegates at the opening session of the party’s fourth annual conference, Mr Napier said: “For the first time in our history there is a totally agreed formula on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland. This has never happened before in the 54 years of existence of this state.

“We all now except that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and that any change in that status must only come about if a majority of people in Northern Ireland want it.”

Mr Napier said that this position was accepted not only by the three government parties here. “It is also accepted by most loyalists – and as a result of Sunningdale, by the Government of the Republic of Ireland,” he said.

The Alliance leader added: “The importance of this breakthrough must not be overlooked. We have achieved what could never be achieved before – total agreement on our present status and the only formula for change. We can, therefore, all work together for the good of the entire people, participating in and accepting the institutions of the state even though we may have different hopes for the future.”

An optimistic reading offered by Alliance Party leader Oliver Napier on the Irish government’s recent statements accepting Northern Ireland’s status within the UK.