[D]ashing grey Carrigdhoun is going in search of a very special double as he follows in the historic tracks of the world’s most famous steeplechaser.
The popular Cumbrian-based 12-year-old heads to Red Rum Day at Carlisle Racecourse on Thursday (October 19) with hopes high he can continue an impressive three-race winning streak at his home track.
Aintree legend Red Rum prepared for each of his three Grand National triumphs in the 1970s by first winning the Windermere Handicap Chase at Carlisle’s opening jumps meeting of the season.
The three-mile Windermere – resurrected by the course in 2016 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Rummy’s last triumph in Cumbria – was won last year by Brampton-stabled Carrigdhoun.
Owned and trained by Maurice and Anne Barnes, who affectionately describe him as adrenaline-fuelled but “daft as a brush”, Carrigdhoun has become a firm favourite with local punters.
Maurice, a Grand National winning jockey himself on Rubstic in 1979, said: “Touch wood he’s in good heart, good form.”
Anne, added: “He (Carrigdhoun) gets to a racecourse and he knows what to do. He doesn’t get worked up but he’s still excited.
“He is getting older, but when he gets to the course he gets the adrenalin going. He’s still as daft as a brush, you’d think he’s about six out there!””
The Barnes’ were pleased with their gelding’s September return at Perth in conditions that weren’t particularly suitable.
But given back-to-back wins at Carlisle last October, followed up by a third-straight triumph in February, there is clearly something about the course Carrigdhoun loves.
He has eight career wins to date – not bad for a chaser the Barnes’ stable was advised not to take on after the horse suffered leg problems.
Despite Carrigdhoun’s run of fine form on his local track, Maurice knows the course, as ever, will provide a big test, particularly with the uphill finish on the home straight.
Maurice added: “They have to stay. Two miles there is more like two-and-a-half anywhere else. That four furlongs to the finish is quite steep. It’s definitely a stayer’s track.”
Geraldine McKay, Carlisle Racecourse’s General Manager, said: “Being based just down the road from us, Carrigdhoun was certainly a popular winner of the Windermere last year.
“We are delighted to see him back to defend this historic race as part of our second annual Red Rum Day which is shaping up to be a cracking start to our jumps season.”
Trainers Nigel Twiston-Davies, Donald McCain, Jonjo O’Neill, Lucinda Russell, Nicky Richards and Michael Scudamore all have numerous entries in Thursday’s seven-race card which gets underway at 2.10pm.