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Waiting Patiently to be aimed at Aintree

Waiting Patiently will sidestep the Cheltenham Festival and instead be aimed at the Grand National meeting at Aintree.

Ruth Jefferson’s stable star made a hugely encouraging return from over a year off the track when runner-up to Frodon in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The talented 10-year-old was subsequently dropped in trip from three miles to two miles and a furlong for the Clarence House Chase at Ascot, where after being supplemented he finished third to First Flow and Politologue.

Having already been taken out of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Waiting Patiently retained the option of running in either the Ryanair Chase or the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the Cotswolds, but has now been scratched from those races, too.

Jefferson said: “I took him out of the Queen Mother ages ago and I’ve now taken him out of the Ryanair and the Gold Cup.

“Thinking about it, we felt the King George wasn’t the fastest run three-mile race in the world, so maybe the Gold Cup wasn’t the right option.

“And after his last race, he was going to need a little bit of veterinary attention, so we thought we’d leave him for Aintree.

Ruth Jefferson is looking towards Aintree with Waiting Patiently
Ruth Jefferson is looking towards Aintree with Waiting Patiently (Julian Herbert/PA)

“He’s not had an issue as such, but the longer between his Ascot run and his next run the better.”

Reflecting on Waiting Patiently’s latest performance, North Yorkshire-based Jefferson added: “I just thought he was flat out, to be honest.

“He came into the race and just stayed on at the same pace.”

Waiting Patiently ruled out of Champion Chase reckoning

Ruth Jefferson has scratched Waiting Patiently from the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase following his defeat at Ascot on Saturday.

It was obvious to the North Yorkshire trainer that two miles is too short a trip for the 10-year-old as he stayed on well to take third place behind First Flow in the Clarence House Chase.

Waiting Patiently had finished second in the King George VI Chase over three miles on his previous start and he will now be campaigned over longer distances.

He still holds entries in the Ryanair Chase over an extended two and a half miles and the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup over three and a quarter miles at the Cheltenham Festival.

Jefferson will look at those two races as well as at Aintree in April, with a decision to be made nearer the time.

“After yesterday it seems a bit obvious we’re not going to run him over two miles again, so we’ve taken him out of the Champion Chase before I forgot to scratch him. I took him out so I wouldn’t accidentally leave him in the race in three weeks’ time,” she said.

“We’ll play things by ear. We’ll keep an eye on him for the next two or three weeks.

“He’ll either go to Cheltenham or Aintree, all being well. We’ll look further ahead now. He’s had two runs in a month. That will do for now.”

Jefferson’s pride and joy Waiting Patiently ready for Ascot again

Ruth Jefferson describes Waiting Patiently as “a joy and a headache to train” as she prepares for his latest attempt at big-race glory at Ascot.

It is coming up to five years since the Flemensfirth gelding broke his duck in a minor novice hurdle at Sedgefield for the now-retired Keith Reveley – and it is fair to say he has had a rollercoaster career ever since.

Having looked a superstar in the making after winning his first five starts over fences for Malcolm Jefferson, he made it six on the bounce with an emotional success in the 2018 Ascot Chase, a Grade One triumph which came just a couple of weeks after his popular trainer’s death.

A whole host of injuries have meant Jefferson’s daughter Ruth has managed to get her aptly-named stable star to the racecourse on just five occasions in the subsequent three years, but she has no doubt he is worth all the effort.

Speaking on a call hosted by Great British Racing on Thursday, Jefferson said: “He’s a remarkable horse really. I know he’s not young any more, but he’s not run much and doesn’t think he’s old.

“He comes back time and again, and runs his race. You can’t really ask for more than that, but I would like another Grade One on his CV.”

Detailing some of the problems Waiting Patiently has endured, she said: “He had a bone spur that put him out of the Arkle as a novice chaser – then the following season he was due to go to Cheltenham in November, December and January and had a lung infection.

“After he won the Ascot Chase he got a touch of a leg injury, and we didn’t know if we were going to get him back, and since then we’ve had a chip that needed removing and a lung infection was resistant to 16 of 17 antibiotics it was that rare!

“He’s just that sort of horse. There’s always something with him, and you don’t know what’s coming next, but he’s worth spending the money on because he always comes back at that level.

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“He’s a joy and a headache to train. I’m not sure I’ve got another one like him in the yard at the moment – they’re not easy to come across when you’re someone like me.”

Waiting Patiently most recently proved his considerable ability remains very much intact when storming home to fill the runner-up spot behind Frodon in the King George VI Chase at Kempton – his first competitive outing in 12 months.

Jefferson had not even entered her charge for Saturday’s Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase, but decided to supplement him earlier this week at a cost of £5,000, such is his well-being.

“He came out of the King George really well,” she added.

“I had to ride him out two days later, because he’s quite an aggressive horse in his stable and he was going to hurt someone if we didn’t do something with him.

“It came up in conversation with Richard (Collins, owner) that the Clarence House was coming up, and it was a shame we hadn’t put him in. He texted me a few days later and said ‘what do you feel about supplementing him’?

“I told him I wasn’t against that. I said we could see what the ground was going to be like and what the race was going to be like, and if we were happy with him we’d do it – so we did.”

Given Waiting Patiently’s injury record, it is hardly surprising Jefferson is none too keen in looking beyond this weekend’s assignment.

He has been entered for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but his trainer is in no rush to make running plans.

She said: “Straight after the King George Richard rang me up and said ‘we’ll go for the Gold Cup’, but that was literally within 20 minutes of the race and he was very excited to have a Gold Cup contender.

“Five days later he wasn’t quite as convinced and didn’t want to give him a Gold Cup entry, but I said it would make me happy to enter him, and he agreed.

“We’ve put him in everything, because it’s still seven weeks until Cheltenham and I don’t know what the ground is going to be, what’s going to turn up and what’s going to pay the cost to come from Ireland. Why rule it out now when we’ve got seven weeks to think about it?

“The horse is versatile, and we can let the ground decide which way we go, rather than getting excited one way or the other.”

Brian Hughes has been ever-present in the saddle during Waiting Patiently’s 11-race chasing career thus far – and he remains the champion jockey’s only Grade One winner to date.

Hughes said: “He’s an extremely talented horse and extremely versatile. He’s not overly big, but he’s very strong and muscly – and no matter what the trip is, he runs his race.

“We feel he doesn’t get the credit he deserves, because he’s a northern horse, but he’s a very good horse and has run very good horses to small margins when he’s been beaten.

“Hopefully he shows up again on Saturday, and I’m confident he’ll put up a big show.”

Hughes, who again leads this year’s title race, would love to showcase his talents more on the big stage, and believes his top-level opportunities are more limited because he is based in the north.

He added: “It’s brilliant when you’re riding lots of winners, but when you look back at your career when you’ve finished, you’d like to have a few big races on your CV.

“I’m lucky to have a horse like Waiting Patiently, but I’ve only got one of him – whereas other jockeys have 10 Grade One horses to ride.

“That is just the way the cards fall for different jockeys. You want to have Grade One winners, and trainers want to have them and owners want to have them – that’s always the dream.

“I feel there’s a lot of good trainers, owners and jockeys in the north, and we sort of seem to get looked upon as second-class citizens sometimes. I thought me being champion jockey was something everyone in the north could take a bit of credit for.”

Politologue tops eight Clarence House contenders

Politologue is set to face seven rivals in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

Last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase hero made a flying start to the current campaign when bagging a second victory in the Tingle Creek at Sandown – and he is a hot favourite to provide trainer Paul Nicholls with a sixth success in Saturday’s Grade One feature.

The Ditcheat handler also saddles Duc Des Genievres. The grey won the 2019 Arkle at Cheltenham when trained by Willie Mullins and has been placed twice since joining Nicholls, at Cheltenham and Kempton respectively.

Last year’s winner Defi Du Seuil returns to defend his crown – with something to prove.

Defi Du Seuil (right) on his way to winning last year's Clarence House Chase
Defi Du Seuil (right) on his way to winning last year’s Clarence House Chase (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The Philip Hobbs-trained eight-year-old was a red-hot favourite to win the Champion Chase after denying the now-retired Un De Sceaux a fourth Clarence House Chase success 12 months ago.

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However, Defi Du Seuil disappointed at the Cheltenham Festival and again failed to fire on his return at Prestbury Park in November.

Ruth Jefferson decided to supplement her stable star Waiting Patiently earlier this week, at a cost of £5,000.

The former Ascot Chase winner ran an excellent race to finish second to Frodon in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, and drops almost a mile in distance four weeks later.

Kim Bailey steps First Flow up in class following five consecutive wins at a lower level.

Bun Doran (Tom George), Fanion D’Estruval (Venetia Williams) and Le Patriote (Dr Richard Newland) complete the octet.

Williams told Sky Sports Racing: “I don’t see why the ground should adversely affect him any more than the others. It’s no bad thing, because a race like that is all about sheer speed and hopefully that might take a bit of the edge off it.

“He’s still a young horse, and I think that’s where a lot of the hope and promise comes from.

“It’s easy to forget he started off in a handicap, although winning it very easily at Newbury on his first run for us last season, and since then we’ve pretty much thrown him in at the deep end – this is going to deeper than anything he’s done before.”

Fanion D’Estruval was last seen falling three fences from home in the re-scheduled Peterborough Chase at Cheltenham.

“There were several travelling well. It was far enough out not to be making judgments at that stage,” Williams added.

“The last quarter of a mile was still to be run. We’ve yet to see how he deals with that in this company.

“He’s only just turned six, so I think we’re very much flexible on trip. I suspect in due course he’ll be stepping up in trip.”

Waiting Patiently enters Clarence House reckoning

Waiting Patiently is set to make a surprise appearance in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase, after being supplemented for the Grade One over an extended two miles at Ascot.

Connections of the Ruth Jefferson-trained gelding decided to add him to the field at the five-day confirmation stage for Saturday’s feature, because he had taken his run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day so well.

The lightly-raced 10-year-old, owned by Richard Collins, finished strongly to take second place behind Frodon in the Christmas showpiece on his first start since December 2019.

That race was over three miles. But Waiting Patiently is versatile trip wise and will appreciate the rain, between 24 and 27 centimetres, which is forecast this week between Monday evening and Thursday on ground already described as soft.

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“He came out of the King George really well, ridiculously well, in himself,” said Jefferson.

“I was mad with myself I didn’t enter him in the first place – and we felt a couple of weeks ago if he was all right, and there was plenty of rain about, we’d have a crack at it.

“It gives us a bit more time to think about Cheltenham rather than wait for the Ascot Chase (next month). We might go for that race, but we thought we’d run him while he was well in himself – and it frees up other options.

“They might get a frost but they are due about 25 millimetres of rain first at Ascot, so it’s going to be right up his street ground wise. He handles it better than most.”

His nine potential rivals are headed by Politologue. The Paul Nicholls-trained grey won last season’s Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, and made a successful seasonal debut in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last month.

Politologue heads the 10 five-day entries for the Ascot Grade One
Politologue heads the 10 confirmations for the Ascot Grade One (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Also in the mix is last year’s winner Defi Du Seuil, trained by Philip Hobbs. The eight-year-old has not run since disappointing in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November.

Nicholls also has Duc Des Genievres in the list, while Jessica Harrington’s Impact Factor is the sole Irish-trained possible.

Completing the list are Benatar, Bun Doran, Fanion D’Estruval, First Flow and Le Patriote.

Riders Onthe Storm and Sizing Pottsie were the two scratchings from the entry stage.

Jefferson keeps patient approach with Waiting

Trainer Ruth Jefferson is no hurry to make plans for Waiting Patiently after his excellent run in defeat in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

The North Yorkshire trainer reports the early signs are that her injury-plagued stable star has come out of the race well.

He was ridden out for the first time on Tuesday since the Boxing Day showpiece which saw him stay on strongly to take second behind Frodon.

Jefferson said: “Cheltenham entries are next week, so I’ll see if his owner wants to put him in anything.

“We’ll see how he is and take it from there.

“I’m not sure he has a best trip. He nearly won a Tingle Creek, he’s won an Ascot Chase and nearly won a King George.

“I’m not worried about trip. As long as he stays sound, we can pick and choose his races.”

Waiting Patiently out to answer stamina questions in King George

Ruth Jefferson is keen to find out for sure if Waiting Patiently stays three miles in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The Grade One winner turns 10 soon yet has had only 13 races in his career -winning seven – and Jefferson herself describes him as “physically fragile”.

Waiting Patiently ran in the King George two years ago and was 4-1 second favourite behind Might Bite but got only as far as the ninth fence when he jumped into the back of Bristol De Mai and unseated Brian Hughes.

“I’m 99.9 per cent sure that is where we are going,” Jefferson told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

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“He’s just a horse who is a little bit physically fragile. He’s a horse who only takes three races a year anyway.

“After he won the Ascot Chase in 2018 he got a bang on his tendon, (and) we thought we’d end up missing a whole year, but he didn’t. We brought him back for the King George when he got unseated and then we ran in the Ascot Chase when he was second to Cyrname.

“After that we went to Aintree – but he wasn’t right there, so we put him away and went for a Tingle Creek where he ran an absolute blinder but unfortunately after that he had a chip forming in his joint which had to be removed and meant he missed the rest of last season.

“Richard (Collins, owner) was very keen to try three miles again, so that is where we are going, the King George.”

Since his finest hour at Ascot in Feburary 2018, Waiting Patiently has run only four times.

“A lot of good horses now only run three times a season – it goes back to Henrietta Knight with Best Mate,” added Malton trainer Jefferson.

“If you get three runs out of a horse and they are all in Grade One or Twos and they run their race every time you kind of don’t mind.

“To finish so close in a Tingle Creek but then have to finish his season there was a little bit gutting – but we’re optimistic fools who train racehorses, so we’re back again.

“You can make a case for and against him getting the trip. We know he has the pace for two miles – but when he won the Ascot Chase against Cue Card they went an absolute gallop and it’s a very stiff climb to the finish there.

“He’d be the first horse in his family to stay three miles. He’s a half-brother to McFabulous, and I think I’m right in thinking they didn’t feel he stayed three miles at Newbury – but he does settle well and he won’t over-race.

“To be honest, we don’t know. If we’d found out two years ago we might not have been here this week. He might be one of those horses to whom trip is irrelevant. He’s definitely still got his ability, he hasn’t slowed down.

“All I really want is a clear round, then we’ll know if he stays or if he’s good enough. Two years ago he was nearly favourite, I think. Now we’re 25-1 and forgotten about.”

Waiting Patiently has King George comeback target

Waiting Patiently is set to return to action for the first time in a year in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Ruth Jefferson had her stable star entered in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday, but took him out at the confirmation stage because the ground is unlikely to be soft enough for him over two miles.

Waiting Patiently’s only attempt at three miles came in the King George in 2018 – when he was badly hampered by the fall of Bristol De Mai at the ninth fence, and unseated his rider.

Any stamina questions were therefore unanswered, but his owner Richard Collins is keen to have another go up in trip with the fragile nine-year-old,  sidelined again since being beaten just a length in last year’s Tingle Creek.

A chipped fetlock, discovered in January, forced him to miss the two-mile-five-furlong Betfair Ascot Chase – which he won in 2018 and was runner-up in 12 months later.

However, Jefferson reports Waiting Patiently to be in good form for his comeback this month.

“He’s absolutely fine,” said the Malton trainer.

“His owner Richard was very keen to try him again at three miles in the King George.

“We came to an agreement we’d give him a Tingle Creek entry and see what the ground was. If it was soft/heavy, we’d go for it – but it’s only just going to be soft and not heavy, so it’s back to plan A.

“Everything is going fine, touch wood, so at the moment we are looking ahead to Boxing Day.”

Jefferson had a more wary update on Clondaw Caitlin, who is on the easy list.

“She wasn’t quite 100 per cent coming off the gallops about two weeks ago, and I can’t find anything wrong with her,” she said.

“We’ve just had to back off for a bit, so there are no plans for her at present.”

Clondaw Caitlin, a Grade Two winner over hurdles at Kelso in February, showed plenty of promise when third on her chasing debut at Cheltenham in October.

Waiting Patiently has choice of Tingle Creek and King George

Ruth Jefferson is considering both the Betfair Tingle Creek and the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase as she plans a comeback for stable star Waiting Patiently.

A chipped fetlock sidelined Waiting Patiently in January, forcing him to miss the Betfair Ascot Chase – a race he won in 2018 and finished runner-up in last year.

The nine-year-old’s last racecourse appearance was a third-placed effort in the Tingle Creek at Sandown last December, just a length behind winner Defi Du Seuil.

The Sandown showpiece is once again a possible target next month, with Waiting Patiently included in the list of entries unveiled on Tuesday, but Jefferson is also considering an alternative path which begins with the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day.

“He’s got a King George entry and a Tingle Creek entry, and we just have to figure something out with which one to go for,” said the Malton trainer.

“I know they are sort of extremes, being two miles and three miles. But we thought if we put him in, then we could have a look when we had a better idea, nearer the time.

“He’s fine at home. He’s working well and he’s happy, so fingers crossed he stays that way.”

Jefferson also issued an update on her promising mare Clondaw Caitlin, who finished third on her chasing debut at Cheltenham last month.

“I was pleased with her – I think she settled nicely, jumped nicely and seemed to stay the trip,” she said of the five-year-old, who was unbeaten over hurdles and claimed the Grade Two Premier Novices’ Hurdle at Kelso in February.

“She maybe needed the race a little bit, but there weren’t many negatives to take away from it.

“I’ve always thought on better ground she would need three miles, and on softer ground she could come back to two and a half.”