Richard Guest pays tribute to Grand National hero Red Marauder
The nine-times race winner died in his sleep on Tuesday.
Richard Guest described his Grand National victory aboard Red Marauder as his "greatest day in racing" after paying tribute to the former Aintree hero, who has died at the age of 26.
The nine-times race winner, who enjoyed his finest moment on a racecourse when capturing a remarkably gruelling renewal of the world's greatest steeplechase in 2001, died in his sleep on Tuesday.
A sixth-fence faller the previous year, Red Marauder made a triumphant return to Merseyside 12 months later when coming home by a distance from Smarty, with only four of the 40 starters finishing as the rain poured down.
Blowing Wind and Papillon were the only other horses to complete, having been remounted by Sir Anthony McCoy and Ruby Walsh respectively and coming home virtually together.
Red Marauder was officially trained for his finest hour by owner Norman Mason, but his rider Guest, who partnered him in 15 of his 21 career starts, played a key part in his preparation.
Guest, who returned to the hallowed winner's enclosure splattered in mud, said: "He gave me my greatest day in racing. He has been there throughout with me and I had him in retirement and I had him all the way through.
"He really enjoyed retirement. He loved being in the field and being head of the herd and if a young horse came into the field he would protect and look after it.
"He was a pleasure to have in my life and he went nice and peacefully. He went and laid down in the field and died peacefully in his sleep. He had a tough life, but lived longer than most.
"It was very testing in the National and that suited him as he galloped all day. He was not the greatest jumper in the world, but everything was in our favour that day.
"He was honest and genuine, but he could be a bit daft as he would look for other horses coming rather than the fences. He was quite hard to keep concentrated. He was as brave as a lion and as honest as they come, though.
"He will leave a hole in the heart. It is a tough game and when it gets tough at times he reminded you that miracles can happen.
"It will be sad when April comes around that he is no longer here to take back to Aintree for the past winners parade that Red adored being part of, he loved the attention of the crowds and we have no doubt that he knew he was a very special horse."
Although Red Marauder, who had his last race in 2003, spent much of his retirement with Guest, in his final few months he was looked after by close friend Lauren Swingler and her family.
Guest said: "They had a 12-acre field with only two horses in and they took a horse off me for Lauren to ride and I said would you like to have Red here and they said they would love to have him. It was a beautiful place for him to go to.
"Lauren really looked after him superbly and I feel very sorry that he died while they had him. They had got very attached with him.
"She has showered him with love, care and affection and she will be feeling the loss deeply."
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Source: At The Races