Just two weeks previously, Northern trainer Malcolm Jefferson sadly passed away after a long illness with daughter Ruth inheriting his license. Over the years, there have been several decent horses occupying the Jefferson yard, but Waiting Patiently is now assuming the role as star animal of the yard especially after his triumph in the Betfair Ascot Chase at the weekend.
Waiting Patiently’s Rivals
Unbeaten in his only five starts over fences, Waiting Patiently was facing his sternest test to date ahead of this 2m5f chase with Top Notch, Cue Card, Frodon and promising Irish raider Coney Island among his top-class rivals. The race was viewed a trial for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham for which Un De Sceaux is currently leading the market.
As the Ascot Chase enfolded, Cue Card, Frodon and Speredek set a generous early pace with the former assuming control as the runners emerged from Swinley Bottom on the final circuit. However, jockey Brian Hughes aboard Waiting Patiently was adopting the name of his horse and biding his time before the home straight.
The Jefferson gelding moved closer to Cue Card as the horses entered the home straight and eventually overtook the long-time leader after the final fence to secure a fairly comfortable and emotional victory.
Hughes said afterwards that he had taken the lead too early prompting suggestions that there is still more to come from this 7-year-old gelding. Cue Card has now entered the veteran stage, but he has won this race on two previous occasions and ran with much of his old zest on this occasion, but he just could not cope with Waiting Patiently at the finish.
The question now being asked is whether this improving Northern horse can win the Ryanair at Cheltenham for which he is quoted at approximately 7/2 second favourite by most bookmakers. However, Ruth Jefferson has yet to decide whether he will line-up at the Festival, given the fact that his preferred soft underfoot conditions may not prevail at Cheltenham.
She realises that her star horse could improve still further and is still sufficiently young to avoid being rushed into a demanding schedule. Waiting Patiently could miss the Ryanair, but his participation would determine whether he can assume the mantle of a true champion.