During his thirteen-year career as a professional jockey, Philip Blacker rode 340 winners and competed in The Grand National nine times. Philip is among a small group of jockeys who have been in three or more top four Grand National finishes – he was fourth to Red Rum in ‘Rummy’s’ first Grand National win in 1973 and managed a seventh place in 1977 when Red Rum won his third and final Grand National. He was almost responsible for spoiling the famous Bob Champion story when less than 50 feet away from beating Aldaniti after the gruelling four-mile-plus race.
In 1982 he retired from race-riding and encouraged by Brough Scott and respected sculptor Margot Dent started to awaken his latent talent for art and, in particular, sculpture. It was, perhaps, this combination of Philip’s racing experience in one of the toughest sports in the world, and his artistic flair mixed with an instinctive and innate understanding of the equine anatomy, which led to Aintree Racecourse offering him a commission to create the Red Rum life-size bronze sculpture.
“They wanted me to capture Red Rum’s character – the way he came alight when racing, the sense of purpose that he bought to his racing”, explained Philip. The world-famous statue, which has appeared in hundreds of thousands of fans’ and racegoers’ photographs, is now the subject of an exquisite 40th anniversary work by Blacker.
Encouraged by Aintree, he has recreated a Limited Edition of 400 statuettes of the original Red Rum bronze, each standing on a marble base and signed in the bronze plinth by the artist. The iconic original, which captures a moment during Red Rum’s morning exercise on Southport beach, is faithfully reproduced and Philip is delighted with the result.
“Because he was revered as ‘The People’s Horse’ I really wanted to produce an affordable piece of art which I think is as true as possible to Rummy’s spirit. He had small feet and he could be an absolute so and so. But then he’d get on that beach or on a racecourse, and he’d get up on those toes, and he’d be dancing around. He was a real joy to watch. Even, as I found to my cost on the racecourse, usually from behind!”
Visitors to this year’s Grand National meeting will be able to meet Philip in person and view or purchase the Limited Edition in ‘Stable 46’ adjacent to the Queen Mother stand.
Each bronze comes in a smart custom-made box in the famous Red Rum colours and costs £395 incl VAT and delivery anywhere throughout the UK.