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Pick 6: The six worst post-war 2,000 Guineas winners.

Byline: John Randall

In the first of a new weekly series, Racing Post historian John Randall gives a personal view of the least illustrious winners of the Newmarket Classic

MANY people claim that there is no such thing as a bad Classic winner, but the six colts listed below all disproved that notion, for they were the worst 2,000 Guineas winners since World War II.

Quality is relative, and even the worst Classic winner is among the elite of the three-year-old generation, yet the following sextet needed opposition that was mediocre or off-form, or a sheer fluke, in order to triumph at Newmarket. In most cases the old adage that `the fittest horse wins the 2,000 Guineas' was valid.

1 Rockavon 1961

Rockavon has three claims to fame. He is the only horse trained in Scotland ever to win a Classic; he holds the record as the

longest-priced winner in the history of the 2,000 Guineas; and he is the worst horse to win the race not only since 1945, but since Victorian times.

Trained by George Boyd at Dunbar in East Lothian, Rockavon seemed underpriced at 66-1 at Newmarket in 1961, yet he led a furlong out and scored by two lengths. The field was abysmal by Classic standards and his only worthy rivals - L'Epinay, Henry The Seventh and Psidium - finished sixth, 18th and 19th; they later won the Prix de l'Abbaye, Eclipse and Derby respectively.

Rockavon himself won only one more race - a match against a nonentity.

2 Roland Gardens 1978

Despite having won the Horris Hill Stakes (later disqualified) and Blue Riband Trial, Roland Gardens started at 28-1 for the 2,000 Guineas in 1978, yet he led 100 yards out and, after hanging badly, beat Remainder Man by a length and a half. The favourite, Try My Best, finished last.

The Duncan Sasse-trained mudlark was lucky that the ground was soft and the opposition moderate; he never won another Pattern race.

3 Island Sands 1999

Island Sands was having his first outing for Godolphin when leading all the way in the 1999 2,000 Guineas, which was run on the July course. He held on by a neck from Enrique to maintain his unbeaten record, but in retrospect it was a poor renewal of the race.

This was the only Pattern race Island Sands ever won; he had training problems and in all ran only nine times in four campaigns.

4 Doyoun 1988

Unlike the other colts on this list, the Aga Khan's Doyoun caused no surprise with his Guineas victory, for he was an unbeaten Craven Stakes winner and started at

odds-on in 1988. Yet he had only eight rivals and had to be hard ridden to beat the moderate Charmer by half a length.

Doyoun never won again, though he finished third to his owner's second string, Kahyasi, in the Derby. He sired Daylami.

5 Happy Knight 1946

A colt who wins a Classic by four lengths should not belong on this list, but the maiden Happy Knight was greatly flattered by that margin in the first post-war 2,000 Guineas. The 28-1 shot led

two furlongs out and made his fitness tell as he strode clear.

Happy Knight flopped when favourite for the Derby and did not win again for two years, by which time he was a temperamental sprint handicapper.

6 Mister Baileys 1994

Being a record-holder is no guarantee of excellence, and Mister Baileys proved the point when winning the fastest 2,000 Guineas of all time in 1994. The Mark Johnston-trained colt led over two furlongs out and just held on from Grand Lodge. The principals looked favoured by the draw. Mister Baileys never won again but was fourth in the Derby.


Pick of a bad bunch: Rockavon with his trainer John Boyd (right)
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 28, 2004
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