Thomas Brendan ‘Tommy’ Stack is probably best remembered as the jockey who, following a disagreement between Brian Fletcher and Donald ‘Ginger’ McCain, rode Red Rum to an unprecedented third win in the Grand National in 1977.
Born in Moyvane, Co. Kerry, Stack began his riding career in Britain, at the age of 19, with veteran trainer Robert ‘Bobby’ Renton – who saddled Freebooter to win the Grand National in 1950 – at Oxclose, near Ripon, North Yorkshire in 1965. Initially an amateur jockey, Stack turned professional in 1967, at the insistence of the Jockey Club.
The following year, Lurline Brotherton bought Red Rum out of a selling handicap, over 7 furlongs, at Doncaster for 1,400 guineas and sent him to Renton. In 1969/70, Stack rode Red Rum 14 times over hurdles without winning and, in 1970/71, in his first 12 starts over fences, in which his form was fair, if unspectacular. In 1972, though, Red Rum finished fifth in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr, catching the eye of McCain, who subsequently bought him, on behalf of Noel Le Mare, for 6,000 guineas at Doncaster Sales the following August.
By that time, Renton had retired, leaving Stack as both trainer and jockey at Oxclose. Stack soon surrendered the training duties to Tony Gillam and, in 1974/75, having become stable jockey to William Arthur Stephenson at Leasingthorne, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, won the jockeys’ for the first time with 82 winners. Stack was Champion Jockey again in 1976/77 with 97 winners and, of course, made history by winning the Grand National, by 25 lengths, on his old friend Red Rum.
Stack retired at the end of the 1977/78 season, at the age of 32, having ridden a total of 602 winners under National Hunt rules. Aside from the National, his major winners also included True Lad, trained by permit holder William ‘Bill’ Swainson, in the Schweppes Gold Trophy, now the Betfair Hurdle, in 1977 and Strombolus, trained by Peter Bailey, in the Whitbread Gold Cup, now the Bet365 Gold Cup, in his retirement year.