Ropey Guest, one of the highest-rated maidens in training, heads to Chelmsford on Thursday for a 13th attempt at gaining an elusive first victory.
The three-year-old has the unwanted distinction of being one of the sport’s most gallant losers over the past two seasons – consistently gaining places in Group and Listed company and rarely running a disappointing race.
As a two-year-old, he was third in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot, the Group Three Acomb Stakes at York and both the Tattersalls Stakes and the Autumn Stakes – two Group Three contests held at Newmarket.
His closest brush with success came in the Group Three Horris Hill Stakes, also at Newmarket, where he finished just half a length behind Roger Teal’s Kenzai Warrior.
His long-awaited maiden victory has continued to evade him this season, despite two creditable runs in the Jersey Stakes and the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes returning fourth and third placings respectively.
Newmarket trainer George Margarson is now hoping he will be rewarded for his patience when the colt tackles the Good Easter Novice Stakes.
“There are not many Group races for him around, so we’re putting him into a novice to try to get his elusive win and get him off the mark,” he said.
“Ideally we would have liked good to soft ground on a turf track, but there are limited opportunities at the moment.
“He’s very well and in really good form.”
The race will be the first Ropey Guest has run on an all-weather surface, but Margarson has few concerns as the son of Cable Bay works daily on a gallop made from similar material.
“It is his first run on it, but he’s done plenty of work on it. All his work is on all-weather, he goes very well on it,” he explained.
“The last time we tried a novice it was at Ascot and it didn’t work out very well, so we’ll see what he does. He’s in good nick and I would expect him to run very well.”
Margarson cites Aidan O’Brien’s So Wonderful as one of the few similarly highly-rated horses in training that have retained their maiden tag for as long as Ropey Guest, with the filly taking a maiden race at the Curragh on August 9 at the 15th attempt.
“There are very few higher-rated maidens,” he said.
“Aidan O’Brien managed to win with his – the filly So Wonderful. She had gone 14 runs without a win and for Aidan O’Brien, that’s going some. We’re holding the record, but it’s a record I could do without!”
The seven-furlong contest at the Essex circuit has attracted a field of six, including Simon and Ed Crisford’s last-time-out winner Fast Spin and an interesting William Haggas-trained newcomer in the shape of the Tom Marquand-ridden Sea Mood.