Twenty years on from Barathea Guest playing his part in a top-notch renewal of the 2000 Guineas, George Margarson still has a special place in his heart for his Group One winner that unfortunately never was.
First past the post at Longchamp in the 1999 Grand Criterium, Barathea Guest subsequently lost the race in the stewards’ room to Ciro, leaving the trainer to smile looking back: “I always say I’ve trained a Group One winner and second as he won the Grand Criterium for about 45 minutes before he was disqualified and placed second!”
Good days were still to come for Barathea Guest though, starting with the Greenham in 2000 – staged at Newmarket after the Newbury track was not fit for action when scheduled.
The Barry Hills-trained Distant Music was a hot favourite for the Guineas trial after winning the Dewhurst on his final juvenile outing – and looked to have stolen the race when hitting the front in the final furlong.
However, Barathea Guest had other ideas, finishing with a flourish to get up by a head on the line under Philip Robinson.
Margarson recalled: “The Greenham in 2000 was transferred from Newbury to Newmarket and it must have been the only time that year we actually got good to soft ground.
“It was a really exciting race. Distant Music was one of the favourites for the Guineas and got a nice run on the inside, while Barathea Guest was wide.
“The race wasn’t really run to suit him that day and it probably wasn’t one of Robbo’s better rides!
“I thought for a moment he might not get there, but with about three-quarters of a furlong to run, I knew he would. Seven furlongs on faster ground was about as short as he wanted.”
While Margarson enjoyed the win on the day, further reflection adds another layer of enjoyment to the achievement.
He said: “I was actually watching the race back the other day and I don’t think you really appreciate it at the time. It just sort of washes over you as there’s so many people wanting to talk to you.
“You can’t appreciate it at the time, but looking back, you really do.”
Barathea Guest went on to finish third in the Guineas, beaten by only King’s Best and Giant’s Causeway – the ‘Iron Horse’ who went on to win five Group Ones as he danced every dance that summer.
Margarson said: “He then went on to the Guineas and it was one of the best we’ve seen with King’s Best winning and Giant’s Causeway second – that was a proper test.
“We then went to the Irish Guineas the one year it didn’t rain and I’d entered him for the Derby, so we went there.
“He was up against Sinndar that day, who Johnny Murtagh says was one of the best he rode, and he finished eighth.”
Barathea Guest left the Margarson team after one more run, when beaten in a German Group One and while the trainer has a few regrets, he also has plenty of fond memories.
He added: “He was a great horse for us, even though we probably didn’t get everything right with him.”