Wednesday, 14 April 2021

L'Escargot

 

To the public at large, L'Escargot is probably best remembered for his exploits in the Grand National, in which he finished third in 1973, second in 1974 and won, by 15 lengths, in 1975, thereby thwarting an unprecedented hat-trick by Red Rum. However, earlier in his career, L'Escargot was a three-time Cheltenham Festival winner, winning the second division of the Gloucestershire Hurdle, now the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, in 1968 and recording back-to-back victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1970 and 1971. Aside from Golden Miller, who won both races in 1934, he remains the only horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National.


Owned by Raymond Guest, US Ambassador to Ireland between 1965 and 1968, and trained by Dan Moore in Fairyhouse, Co. Meath, started second favourite for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 1969, finishing sixth to Persian War, before being sent over fences. The following year, for his first attempt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, L'Escargot was sent off an unconsidered 33/1 outsider, behind hot favourite Kinloch Brae, who carried the yellow and black colours of Anne Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster, made famous by Arkle. However, the market leader fell at the third-last fence and L'Escargot outstayed French Tan in the closing stages to win by a length-and-a-half.


L'Escargot returned, as defending champion, in 1971 and, in a substandard renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, had little difficulty in beating the novice Leapfrog and The Dikler by 10 lengths and 15 lengths. He tried, and failed, to add a third Cheltenham Gold Cup to his winning tally in 1972 and 1973, finishing fourth on both occasions.

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