Thirteen may be an unlucky number for some – but not for Ropey Guest who finally opened his account in the Good Easter Novice Stakes at Chelmsford on Thursday.
After 12 previous attempts, the George Margarson-trained three-year-old ended his status as one of the highest-rated maidens in training when getting his head in front for the first time in the seven-furlong prize.
The 30-100 favourite – who has been placed four times at Group Three level, including in last year’s Horris Hill Stakes and Acomb Stakes – only needed to be pushed out by Tom Queally to get the better of Wolverhampton winner Fast Spin by three-quarters of a length.
Margarson said: “It looked the ideal race, but it was not the ideal race as they went a crawl and they hacked around. He is a proper miler and in good races he can travel with the best of them and pick up.
“There was probably a bit of pressure on me after So Wonderful won her maiden (for Aidan O’Brien), but Jim Bolger has one as well so I was in good company. I thought if Aidan let So Wonderful win one I better do so with this lad!
“This was just an exercise canter and he is hardly blowing. He is a lazy horse and that is why we ran him a lot last year. This will give his confidence a massive boost as he will now know he can do it.”
Margarson was quick to praise winning rider Queally, who has struck up a good relationship with Ropey Guest having partnered him nine times.
He said: “Tom may not be everybody’s favourite jockey, but he has done well for us and he has won a lot of big races for us.
“He said ‘don’t worry about it, I’m just going to track Adam (Kirby, on Fast Spin) round and wherever he wants to sit I will sit behind him then a furlong out I will just send him’.
“He said he only gave him a tap to wake him up and that has done the business.”
While Margarson plans to step Ropey Guest back up in class before the season is out, he already has one eye set on giving him a third outing at Royal Ascot next year, having finished fourth in this year’s Jersey Stakes and sixth in the Coventry Stakes 12 months earlier.
He said: “I don’t want him to have a hard time this season, as I’ve almost written this season off. If he goes to France it will be for a Listed race as there are a couple there for him. He had a hard season as a two-year-old and he took everything that was thrown at him.
“For the Guest family my main aim always has been to have a Royal Ascot winner. That was John’s dream and we are trying to carry the family dream on.
“We’ve had seconds and thirds for the Guest family and this fellow will be targeted at Royal Ascot for next year, probably for the Royal Hunt Cup. He would probably take in something like the Victoria Cup en route as I believe that is the type of horse he is.”