The 2001 Grand National was run with foot-and-mouth precautions in place after the first case of the contagious viral disease for 20 years caused the suspension of racing and the cancellation of the Cheltenham Festival the previous month. The race was run in gruelling conditions – the worst since 1955, when the water jump was omitted – and the winning time was slowest since Bohemian aristocrat Karl, 8th Prince Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau, rode his own horse, Zoedone, to victory over five other finishers in 1883.
Owned and trained, under permit, by Norman Mason at Crook, County Durham and ridden by Richard Guest, who had been assisting Mason for several years, Red Marauder had fallen at Becher’s Brook on the first circuit in the 2000 Grand National. He fell again, at the first fence, in his preparatory race at Haydock six weeks before the 2001 Grand National, and was sent off at 33/1 for the Aintree marathon.
Approaching the Canal Turn on the first circuit, the 40-strong maximum field had already been to reduced to 25, when Paddy’s Return, who’d unseated rider Adrian Maguire five fences earlier but continued loose, ran down the fence, causing carnage among the backmarkers. In total, ten horses, including the 10/1 joint favourite Moral Support, were brought down, refused or unseated rider at the Chair. Further casualties followed and, heading out into the country for the second time, just seven horses, led by the topweight, Beau, were left standing.
Blowing Wind, Papillon, Brave Highlander and Unsinkable Boxer all refused at the first open ditch after several loose horses ran down the fence and Beau unseated rider Carl Llewellyn at the next fence after his reins broke, leaving just Red Marauder and Smarty to contest a “slow motion” match.
Red Marauder jumped hesitantly at the fourth last fence, handing the initiative to Smarty, but rallied to lead approaching the second last and steadily drew clear, although at no great pace, to win by a distance. Smarty, in turn, finished a distance clear of the remounted Blowing Wind, who was hacked home in his own time by A.P. McCoy.