Tag Archive for: Waiting Patiently

Williams seeking Ascot Chase renaissance with Waiting Patiently

Christian Williams is more hopeful than confident about the chances of Waiting Patiently regaining his crown in Saturday’s Betfair Ascot Chase.

It is four years since the Flemensfirth gelding beat the popular Cue Card to secure his first and only success at Grade One level.

The 11-year-old has suffered his fair share of bumps in the road since – and was pulled up on his first start for Williams, having previously been trained by Ruth Jefferson, in the Betfair Chase in November.

The Welsh handler has given the veteran plenty of time before bringing him back to competitive action, with a clear round and a step in the right direction his key targets this weekend.

Williams said: “It’s a tough race, but it will be nice to get back on the track with him. He appreciates soft ground and he’s run well round the track before, so fingers crossed for a nice run.

“Nothing really came to light after Haydock. He’s probably a tough horse to get in tip-top form at his age, but he seems well at home and it’s a privilege to have a horse in these type of races.

“You’ve got to be realistic. We just hope he runs a nice race and gives us something to build on.”

Dashel Drasher in action at Ascot
Dashel Drasher in action at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Waiting Patiently is one of eight horses declared for the Ascot Chase, with the field headed by Jeremy Scott’s defending champion Dashel Drasher.

Irish raider Fakir D’oudairies is a major contender for Joseph O’Brien, while champion trainer Paul Nicholls relies on Saint Calvados, who finished third in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The in-form Venetia Williams saddles Fanion D’Estruval, Nicky Henderson runs multiple Grade Two winner Mister Fisher and Lostintranslation, a winner over the course and distance for Colin Tizzard earlier in the season, completes the field.

Waiting Patiently primed for Lingfield mission

Christian Williams reports Waiting Patiently to be in good form as the 11-year-old bids to get back on track in the Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield on Sunday.

The Grade One-winning chaser was pulled up in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on his first start since moving from Ruth Jefferson’s stable in North Yorkshire to Williams’ base in Glamorgan.

Williams has been happy with Waiting Patiently’s preparation and is looking forward to the £150,000 contest for which there are 13 entries.

“Obviously we were disappointed at Haydock. He never really jumped or travelled. He galloped into the first fence and it didn’t go for him after that,” Williams told Sky Sports Racing.

“He seemed well before the race and came out of the race OK. We’ve just tweaked a few things. He’s entered for Lingfield on Sunday and we’re hoping for a nice positive run.

“It looks perfect for him. It’s good prize money and we need plenty of runners when they put the prize money on. It looks a very competitive race.

“We worked him this morning with Cap Du Nord, Five Star Getaway and a nice juvenile hurdler we got from France. He worked as well as he always works so we’re looking forward to running him.

“I hope he can put that run behind him. You try to be as positive as you can. He was showing good bits of work before he went to Haydock, so hopefully we can put a line through that and see how we get on.”

Potential rivals include Nigel Twiston-Davies’ popular grey Bristol De Mai, Jeremy Scott’s Dashel Drasher and sole Irish-trained possible, Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir d’Oudairies.

Bristol De Mai was last seen pulling up when bidding for a fourth Betfair Chase win at Haydock in November.

Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, said: “All roads lead to Lingfield for Bristol De Mai. After it all went wrong in the Betfair Chase on good ground, we earmarked this new race for him.

“Daryl (Jacob, retained rider) did not think dropping back to two miles and six furlongs on a track like Lingfield would be too much of an inconvenience and obviously the softer or heavy ground will suit him much better.”

Dashel Drasher has two entries at Lingfield on Sunday
Dashel Drasher has two entries at Lingfield on Sunday (David Davies/PA)

Dashel Drasher also holds an entry in the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Hurdle.

Among the 12 possibles are Olly Murphy’s pair of Brewin’upastorm and Hunters Call, the Gary Moore-trained Goshen and Paul Nicholls’ Miranda.

There are also four Irish entries – Darver Star, Lucky Max, Saint Felicien and Wolf Prince.

Waiting Patiently team mulling future plans

Connections of Waiting Patiently are to discuss the horse’s future over Christmas.

Nothing came to light after the 10-year-old disappointed in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, on his first start since being moved to Christian Williams’ stable from Ruth Jefferson.

Williams plans to give Waiting Patiently, who was runner-up in last year’s King George VI Chase, a racecourse gallop and take advice from owner Richard Collins and jockey Brian Hughes.

“He seems well. We thought he was well before the race, so we’ll just do a nice piece of work with him over Christmas and maybe get Brian down and the owner and then see what they think from there,” said Williams.

“The owner knows the horse well, Brian knows the horse well.

“Nothing really came to light. We will maybe try to give him a racecourse gallop over Christmas and see if they are happy with him and then make a decision from then, whether to carry on or see what we think is best. We’ll see.”

Back to the drawing board for Williams with Waiting Patiently

Waiting Patiently is to be given a thorough check-up after being pulled up in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The 10-year-old was never travelling after making a mistake at the first fence and Brian Hughes drew stumps before the fourth-last fence after losing touch.

It was his first race since he moved to Williams’ Glamorgan yard from Ruth Jefferson, for whom he was a Grade One winner.

“There’s not much to say really. He galloped into the first a little bit, then never jumped or travelled after that,” said Williams.

“He was fine this morning. We’ll have him checked out this week and see if anything comes to light. The ground was probably a bit quick for him, but it would be disappointing to use that as an excuse.

“We’ll see if anything comes to light and we won’t make any plans until then.

“First and foremost he was OK this morning and he was fine after the race. He went out in the field this morning with Strictlyadancer and seemed fine.

“The process now will be just to do some routine checks on him to see if anything pops up.”

Strictlyadancer could run again next month after victory at Haydock
Strictlyadancer could run again next month after victory at Haydock (Simon Marper/PA)

While plans are on hold for Waiting Patiently, Williams is looking forward to the next project for Strictlyadancer after he followed up his win at Cheltenham a week earlier in a staying handicap chase on the Haydock card.

“I don’t think it was a freebie yesterday. He was a short price, but I don’t think it was a terrible race. There were a few progressive horses in there,” he said.

“He probably doesn’t want it too soft. There are a couple of nice races for him – the London National at Sandown in a fortnight and the December Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, the Grade Three, on the Friday of that meeting. He could run there as well.

“The Cheltenham race is a week after Sandown, but the Sandown race sometimes cuts up so he’ll probably have an entry in that as well.”

Williams is likely to confine Potters Corner to cross-country races after the 2019 Welsh Grand National hero was pulled up in the Haydock race won by Strictlyadancer.

“He seems OK. He probably wants soft ground and extreme distances now,” he said.

“We took a chance with Strictlyadancer seven days after Cheltenham and it paid off. We ran Potters Corner eight days after Cheltenham, but that didn’t quite pay off.

“He’ll probably stick to cross-country racing now. He goes well around Cheltenham.”

Williams savouring Betfair Chase challenge with Waiting Patiently

Christian Williams is confident Waiting Patiently can recreate his Grade One form when making his stable debut in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The 10-year-old was previously campaigned by Malton-based Ruth Jefferson, under whose care he claimed a top-level victory in the 2018 Betfair Ascot Chase and finished second in the 2020 King George VI.

A succession of niggling injuries have left the gelding only lightly raced for his age, with his owner feeling a change of scenery may be of benefit after his pulled-up run in the Bowl Chase at Aintree in April.

Christian Williams is thrilled to have Waiting Patiently in his team this year
Christian Williams is thrilled to have Waiting Patiently in his team this year (Adam Davy/PA)

“We were very lucky to get him, though it is a shame for Ruth,” Williams said.

“The owner came up with the idea that as he doesn’t run very often and at his age, it’d probably do him the world of good to have a change in training. We were just lucky with where we’re situated to get the phone call.”

Williams’ stable is located in Ogmore-By-Sea, a Glamorgan village with access to sand dunes and two rivers – natural facilities the trainer takes full advantage of.

“Ultimately we’ll find out on the weekend,” Williams said of how well Waiting Patiently has settled at his new yard.

“He seems in good form, it took him a few weeks to settle in but we’ve had him a good four months now and we’ve done loads of steady, slow work with him.

“We couldn’t be happier with him. Obviously a day is a long time in racing and we’ve four days to go, but we have our fingers crossed that he can get there at the weekend in good form. Up until now, it couldn’t have gone any better.”

Brian Hughes will maintain his partnership with Waiting Patiently
Brian Hughes will maintain his partnership with Waiting Patiently (Mike Egerton/PA)

Brian Hughes has a long-standing association with the horse having ridden him in 13 of his 16 starts, a partnership that Williams is keen to preserve rather than calling on stable conditional Jack Tudor.

“Jack rides him a lot at home, my brother Nicky and Jack ride him out, but the horse doesn’t run very often,” Williams said.

“He often only runs three or four times a year and if Jack was to ride him, it might take him a run or two to get used to him and half your season is up then.

“Brian knows the horse well, the owner gets on well with Brian and wants to keep him on board which is fine.”

A Plus Tard is a leading fancy for Saturday's contest
A Plus Tard is a leading fancy for Saturday’s contest (PA)

The race looks to be a notably competitive renewal, with Henry de Bromhead’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard set to travel over from Ireland to challenge three-times winner Bristol De Mai.

Williams is relishing the idea of a vintage Betfair Chase and is keen to pitch his runner against horses from the top stables.

“We’re confident, we’ve a spring in our step as we’re having a good run, so we’re looking forward to the weekend,” he said.

“We’re an ambitious team and we’d rather those type of horses were in the race than not.

“We want to take the best on, we don’t want it to be a three or four-runner Betfair Chase, we want it to be a good race, it’s good for the public. We want to win a good Betfair Chase, we don’t want to win a poor one.

“We look forward to taking the big yards on, we try to run our horses regularly and we try to take the big yards on. It’s great to have a runner in a Saturday race, it’s great for the profile of the yard.

“We’ll let him do the talking at the weekend. It’d be brilliant, we’re going along nicely but this a step up.

“We’ve got Potters Corner, Cap Du Nord, Kitty’s Light and he’s a step forward again, it’s great to be in a Grade One and we think we’ve got him in good form.”

Kitty’s Light handed Ladbrokes Trophy mission

Charlie Hall runner-up Kitty’s Light will bid to go one better in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.

The Christian Williams-trained five-year-old has actually finished second on his last three starts – also going down narrowly in last season’s bet365 Gold Cup and on his return at Chepstow last month.

Kitty’s Light was best of the rest behind Fusil Raffles on his latest appearance at Wetherby and Williams is excited about his chances in Newbury’s prestigious handicap chase on November 27.

“He’s going for the Ladbrokes Trophy and we’ll probably give him a gallop round there on the gallops morning on the 16th,” said the Welsh trainer.

“He’s been in great form since Wetherby. I think the ground was a bit dead for him there – he didn’t really enjoy the ground.

“He’s only a five-year-old and we still think he’s going to improve with each run, so we’re looking forward to Newbury, where the big, long straight should suit him.”

Williams also provided a positive update on Waiting Patiently, who is set to make his debut for the yard in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday week.

Formerly trained by Ruth Jefferson, the 10-year-old has not managed a victory since landing the 2018 Ascot Chase, but is reported to be firing on all cylinders at present.

Waiting Patiently (right) winning the Ascot Chase
Waiting Patiently (right) winning the Ascot Chase (Julian Herbert/PA)

Williams added: “It’s all systems go (for Haydock).

“We’ve had a great run with him and we can’t wait to run him – it’s a shame the race wasn’t this week.”

Cap Du Nord, meanwhile, is being prepared to tackle the Grand National fences in next month’s Becher Chase, after finishing fourth in the Badger Beer at Wincanton on Saturday.

“I was pleased with his run on Saturday. The ground was a little bit tight for him and we think the National course will suit him,” said Williams.

“Hopefully there’s a bit of cut in the ground for the Becher. We’re looking forward to it.”

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.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

Hughes believes ‘forgotten horse’ Waiting Patiently can make his mark in King George

Champion jockey Brian Hughes is hoping to “sneak in under the radar” with Waiting Patiently in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase.

Ruth Jefferson’s nine-year-old has not run since finishing third in the Tingle Creek last December and unseated in this race in 2018, but he is a Grade One winner in his own right and the lack of a recent outing is of no concern to Hughes.

He also has winning course form, and Hughes is taking encouragement from his Ascot Chase victory that he will see out the three-mile distance in the Boxing Day highlight at Kempton Park.

He told VBet: “It’s obviously a good race. There’s the likes of Cyrname and Clan Des Obeaux, who has won the last two King Georges, and lots of other very talented horses.

“But he’s in really good form at home. He hasn’t run since last December, but that’s never been a barrier for him before and he’s always done well after a long lay-off.

“I’ve had three away days with him and he’s schooled really well each time. Ruth is really happy with him and he’s as fit as you can physically get him at home.

“He’s always been the forgotten horse, probably because he’s not trained by a big southern yard but that suits us nicely as we can just sneak in there under the radar.

“The big question is whether he’ll stay. I guess the fact is no one really knows, but he got two (miles) five (furlongs) at a track like Ascot so that has to give you confidence.

“Everything’s gone well and we’re hoping he can run a huge race.”

Santini should not be underestimated in the King George, says Nico de Boinville
Santini should not be underestimated in the King George, says Nico de Boinville (Tim Goode/PA)

Nico de Boinville warns it would be folly to “underestimate or write off” the chance of Santini.

While accepting Kempton would not be the ideal track for the eight-year-old, the Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up has a CV that merits plenty of respect.

And trainer Nicky Henderson’s decision to supplement him for £5,000 was the right thing to do, according to De Boinville.

“Obviously, it was a late call by the guv’nor as to whether we supplemented him, but it made complete sense,” the jockey told Unibet.

“We know this isn’t his ideal track, as we saw in the Kauto Star at this meeting a couple of seasons ago, but it is not as if he ran a shocker that day and he is the third-favourite in a King George and that tells you it is well worth a roll of the dice.

Nico de Boinville is looking forward to riding Santini in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase
Nico de Boinville is looking forward to riding Santini in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase (David Davies/PA)

“He also happens to be one of the best staying chasers in the country, as we saw in the Gold Cup in March, and I am sure the Aintree run last month will have done him the power of good.

“I obviously wasn’t riding him there, but he clearly ran a very solid race from which to build from. The top two in the market clearly have big claims – my slight preference would be for Cyrname – but if people write my horse off or underestimate him, then so be it.

“The form book says they shouldn’t, and any more rain will not harm his chances either, as that would clearly put the emphasis more on stamina.”

Sam Twiston-Davies won the race 12 months ago on Clan Des Obeaux from his Paul Nicholls-trained stablemate Cyrname and is just as thrilled to be involved again.

“It’s nice to be at Kempton, first and foremost, on Boxing Day,” he told William Hill Racing.

“Christmas is obviously great and then when you’ve got that at the back end of it, it just makes it even more exciting.

“I’m lucky being born in a racing family – once you’d got that Christmas lunch out of the way there was only one thing you were thinking about and that was the runners the next day and was dad (Nigel Twiston-Davies) going to have a winner.

“To then be jumping in the car when we were kids to go to Boxing Day, with Imperial Commander and stuff in the past.

“Now to go and ride a horse with a good chance is literally the stuff you dream about when you’re young.”

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.

“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.”