Ropey Guest could target the Listed William Hill King Charles II Stakes at York on Sunday as he looks to claim a long-awaited first victory.
Placed in all but three of a dozen efforts since making his debut in May last year, the George Margarson-trained colt has run creditably in a succession of Graded contests – but a first-place finish remains elusive.
After suffering his narrowest defeat to date when second by half a length to Kenzai Warrior in the Group Three Horris Hill Stakes at Newmarket in November, the bay returned to action this season in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, finishing fourth to Molatham.
A run in the Listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes at Newmarket’s July course then produced another placing as the son of Cable Bay claimed third.
Alongside the York fixture, Margarson is also considering the Qatar Goodwood Festival as a next step, with entries in the Qatar Handicap Stakes and the Group Three Bonham Thoroughbred Stakes also possibilities.
“I’m going to discuss it with the owners as to whether he goes to York or if he’ll be heading to Goodwood,” he said.
“It looks an easier opportunity for him at York at the moment, as long as the ground was good we’d probably be OK to go with him in the Listed race.
“There’s a couple of races (at Goodwood). The big handicap – the three-year-old handicap – and there’s also a Group Three. It depends really, I think that (the Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes) will be a strong race depending on who heads there. The Listed race at York, although it comes a little bit quick after the Newmarket race, it looks like it will be one of his better options.”
Margarson reported his charge in good form at home after his exertions at Newmarket, which bodes well considering there are only 10 days between that run and his proposed appearance at York.
“He’s quite a laid-back horse, he just eats and sleeps a lot,” he said.
“He’s come out of it really well, he’s 100 per cent, no problems at all. He’s a hard horse, he takes his running. You won’t get him to leave his food, let’s put it that way.”
The trainer also explained how the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent suspension of the sport had interrupted Ropey Guest’s progress, which has been further hindered by his long-term status as a maiden.
He said: “With the way we are at the minute it’s just been week to week, we’re trying to make plans for these horses. In a normal world he’d have gone for a maiden in April and we’d have been moving through from there, but now we’re sort of working backwards.
“It’s a difficult decision what to do with him, it’s very annoying that he’s still a maiden. You would like to drop back, but I went to enter him in a maiden at Windsor and there was 57 entries in it, so there was every chance he might have got balloted out.
“For long-term plans we’ll just see how we go, obviously he’s a horse we’ll be keeping in training as a four-year-old and he’s a sound horse. He could be one of those top-rated horses for the handicaps as a four-year-old.
“We’ll just have to see how he progresses, I think he improved from Ascot to Newmarket and he was probably unlucky not to be second, they obviously think very highly of the winner (Al Suhail).
“It’s just hard, he’s a 104-rated horse and he’s in between Group Three races and Listed races. With more and more horses rated higher this year going into Listed races I think they’re more like Group Threes anyway.
“But we’ll just see how he progresses for the time being.”