Guest, who rode the mud-splattered horse to the unlikeliest of victories, looked after ‘Red’ at his stables near Wetherby where his equine hero passed away on Tuesday night at the venerable age of 26.
“He had a good retirement. He liked being retired and he liked being out in the field,” the trainer told The Yorkshire Post. “The great thing was that he didn’t suffer. He lay down in the field and didn’t get up. It was very peaceful.”
Though the horse was owned and trained in County Durham by Norman Mason, Guest took charge of the horse’s preparations and believes Aintree will never witness a more courageous winner because of the arduous conditions that the National field encountered in 2001.
A suspect jumper at the best of times, Guest’s supreme horsemanship remains the abiding memory of a race like no other in which he and ‘Red’ were twice lucky to avoid riderless horses as most of the field came to grief.
It developed into a two-horse race between Red Marauder and Smarty, tenderly ridden by Timmy Murphy, before Guest’s mount pulled clear and crossed the winning post in the slowest time for 118 years.
The winner of nine races, and nearly £400,000 prize money, a crestfallen Guest paid eloquent tribute to his horse of a lifetime. “He defined my career and made all the sacrifice and hard work worthwhile,” he said.
“He meant everything to me and there will never be a braver horse. He would have run until he died. He wouldn’t look after himself. You had to look after him because he was so courageous. He was never the greatest jumper, but he never fell often.
“He also overcame a lot – ulcers, broken blood vessels. He had broken down three times, and many horses would have been retired on the spot, but he had this amazing will to win which is the hallmark of every National winner.”
Guest and his family treated ‘Red’ like a besotted pet, with the trainer saying the horse became an unlikely soulmate on his more challenging days as a racehorse trainer.
Summing up this special bond, and what the gelding meant to him, he added: “I’d go down to the field, see ‘Red’ and have a chat with him. It sounds daft, but just being with him made me feel better and send me on my way with renewed hope.
“It reminded me about what is possible and why so many of us devote our lives to racing, it’s the toughest game in the world but one of the most rewarding when you have horses as brave and courageous as Red Marauder.”