The story of L’Escargot is best told from the angle of the one event that earned him most fame- The 1975 Grand National at Aintree. The race earned the 1964 Irish born racehorse fame both for whom he beat to win a third major race, and the style in which he did it. L’Escargot began the race as an underdog, as main competitor Red Rum was seeking to make it a hat-trick of wins in a row and had virtually the entire nation behind him. At the end of the race however, the horse owned by American Ambassador to Ireland had cleared 15 lengths ahead of Red Rum!
But L’Escargot’s story is remarkable for a number of other reasons, not least that his name means The Snail’ in French. His owner Raymond R. Guest settled for the name as it had a similar sound to his preferred Let’s Go,’ which was taken at the time.
Ridden by Tom Carberry, the Dan Moore trained horse won the Cheltenham Gold Cup two times in succession in 1970 and 1971 before setting sights on the Grand National. Man and beast began their adventure in 1968, when he won two of the five races he took part in, before crossing the ocean to America where he earned honors in the steeplechase.
Story of persistence
He returned to Europe in 1970, where his remaining career revolved around England and Ireland. After two successful Gold Cup outings, L’Escargot switched to the Grand National in 1972, but he did not get past the third fence. In the following year, he came third, then climbed to second in 1974. The story of persistence was crowned in 1975, when The Snail became only the second horse to win both the Gold Cup and The Grand national, after Golden Miller had won the double in 1934.
The only downside to L’Escargots historic win was the small size of the spectator crowd, as people snubbed the event after the entrance fee was tripled. L’Escargot retired after that win and was gifted to his trainer’s wife Joan, who owned him for nine years before he died in 1984 aged 21.