Patient approach sees switch to Aintree from Cheltenham Festival

Switched: Waiting Patiently, right, is heading for Aintree.
Switched: Waiting Patiently, right, is heading for Aintree.
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Waiting Patiently could step up to three-miles-and-a-furlong for the first time at Aintree next month after trainer Ruth Jefferson confirmed he will not run in the Ryanair Chase at next week’s Cheltenham Festival.

The seven-year-old extended his unbeaten record over fences to six with a tremendous display in last month’s Betfair Ascot Chase, comfortably seeing off the admirable Cue Card, who was bidding for his third victory in the race.

Waiting Patiently was immediately installed as second-favourite for the two-mile-five-furlong Ryanair Chase behind last year’s winner Un De Sceaux, but Jefferson immediately admitted to having doubts about his suitability for the undulations of Prestbury Park.

However, in the end, the key factor in the decision not to run at the Festival is Jefferson feels her charge is not at his sparkling best at home and she will not take any chances with her stable star.

She said: “We’re taking him out of the Ryanair today. He came back from Ascot fine, but then when we started riding him again the weight dropped off.

“We’d love to have a Cheltenham Festival winner, obviously, so it is disappointing in some ways, but we can’t take the horse if he’s not 100 per cent. If I took him to Cheltenham looking light and he ran badly, I’d look pretty stupid.

“I’ve backed him off and he’s already starting to look a bit better. He’ll have another easy week next week and we’ve still got a few weeks to get him ready for Aintree.”

Waiting Patiently is likely to be given entries in the Betway Bowl and the JLT Melling Chase on Merseyside and Jefferson is currently favouring the former.

A potential appearance at the Punchestown Festival is also in the melting pot.

“If the ground comes up good to soft or soft, we might run him in the Bowl. He’ll get an entry in the Melling, but we’re probably favouring him trying him over three miles as it will help us plan for next season,” the Norton-based trainer added.

“There isn’t just Aintree. If we felt the ground was too quick there’s Ireland (Punchestown) as well, so we’ll see.”