Emotions ran high on Saturday, as Waiting Patiently maintained his perfect record over fences when capturing the Grade One Ascot Chase.
The classy seven-year-old is now under the guidance of Ruth Jefferson following the death of her father. Always held in high regard, the youngster’s progress has been measured, with the team mindful of allowing the horse time to mature. They are now reaping the rewards, with the young chaser taking this step up in grade in his stride.
It looked a hot renewal with Top Notch, Coney Island and the old warrior Cue Card in opposition. And it was Tizzard’s 12-year-old stable star that proved the toughest nut to crack. He was ridden aggressively by Paddy Brennan, responding bravely to the jockey’s urgings. Turning for home the pair drew clear of the field, with Waiting Patiently cruising alongside his older rival. He led at the last and stayed on strongly to win by just shy of three lengths. The pair stretched 15 lengths clear of Frodon in third, with a slightly disappointing Top Notch back in fourth.
“He jumps and he travels and when Brian says go he just does,” said Jefferson after the win. “He’s uncomplicated and it’s lovely to watch a horse like that. He’s grown up a lot this year and just seems much more mature.” Speaking of her father, she added: “He liked to take time with his horses. He said ‘if you look after them when they are young, they will look after you when you’re old’. He’d be proud and I must thank him because Richard (Collins, owner) sent the horse to him, not me! I’m thrilled to bits, thrilled for Richard and for everyone at home. I think dad would be crying now.”
The horse needs cut in the ground and Jefferson was adamant that should conditions not suit, the horse would not be running in the Ryanair Chase. “Cheltenham isn’t the be-all and end-all, there’s Aintree or Punchestown. There's also just a slight suspicion that he's better on flatter tracks and there's no hiding place at Cheltenham. I'm not saying we'll never go there, but if we're not 100 per cent happy we won't go.”
Speaking yesterday, the trainer reiterated that a trip to Prestbury Park is far from certain, whilst hinting that the King George is a likely target next term: “He could run again this season, but it won't be the end of the world for us if he doesn't and there are races we're looking at next season. It's an easy three miles at Kempton and he's settling better now, so you would like to think he'd stay and he has form on the track.”
Colin Tizzard was understandably thrilled with the performance of Cue Card. Back to something like his exuberant best, the stable hero is set to head to Cheltenham for one last hurrah. The trainer enthused: “That was lovely. He gives everything and it's a serious horse that's beat him today. He showed what he’s been showing us on the gallops every day. It’s definitely Cheltenham next. We have unfinished business in the Gold Cup and he’s won a Ryanair. Jean (Bishop, owner) will decide and we’ll do what’s best for the horse.”
Should he head for the ‘Blue Riband’ he’ll line up alongside Jess Harrington’s Our Duke. Last year’s Irish National winner bounced back to his best in winning the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park. Speaking yesterday the Gold Cup winning trainer said: “Everything is good this morning and the plan is for Noel Fehily to ride Our Duke at Cheltenham, providing Sizing John gets there and Robert rides him. I was delighted with him yesterday. It was brilliant to see him do that. I'm very lucky to have the two of them, but we've got to get them there now.”
Our Duke’s odds were cut to around 8s, whilst Sizing John is a 6/1 shot. The talented novice, Presenting Percy, was runner-up in Saturday’s Gowran showpiece. It was huge performance from the youngster on just his fourth start over fences. A winner at last year’s Festival, he looks sure to go close in the RSA for which he’s now as short as 5/2.