WAITING Patiently – one of the North’s most exciting steeplechase prospects – will skip the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday week.
Malcolm Jefferson’s six-year-old, who extended his unbeaten record over fences to four at Carlisle last Sunday, will instead be entered in races such as the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown and the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
Malton-based Jefferson could still be represented by Cloudy Dream at Cheltenham, but the burden of top weight and likelihood of soft ground make this unlikely.
“Waiting Patiently won’t go. Cloudy will be confirmed but we won’t decide until nearer the time whether he’ll run,” said Jefferson’s daughter and assistant, Ruth. “You don’t know what the ground will be like and he’s got top weight. Top weight and heavy ground wouldn’t suit him.
“Waiting Patiently will get a few entries, but we’re not in any rush. We’ll look at England and Ireland, there are options for him and we’re quite flexible with him. He’ll get an entry in the John Durkan and the December Gold Cup, even the Tingle Creek as well, so we’ll see. Carlisle was perfect for him as he hadn’t run for a while and we were guaranteed soft ground.”
Meanwhile Newbury’s Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle will be the next target for the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Wholestone.
Third in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival in March, Wholestone was beaten into second by Colin’s Sister in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby last Saturday. “I was delighted with Wholestone’s run at Wetherby on Saturday. He is a lovely horse,” said Twiston-Davies. “He will go off and compete in all those nice staying hurdles races. Newbury will be next for him I imagine.”
The Newbury race is also due to see the return of King George hero Thistlecrack following a long lay-off.
A multiple Grade One winner under Tom Scudamore, trainer Colin Tizzard is confident the precocious horse has fully recovered from a tendon injury.
“He’s one of the best horses I’ve seen. He was brilliant last year, brilliant the year before over hurdles and there’s absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be just as brilliant this year. He’s a big strong, big rib-caged horse,” he said.
“We had him in first week in August, we’re now nearly in November. He’s got a month of fast work and he’ll be ready to run. He’ll have a hurdle before we go in the King George because we can’t really go there first time up.
“I feel his legs once a week now and someone else feels them every other day, not every day but I have a little feel and they seem absolutely fine. I think ‘which leg was it?’ … I’m sure it was that one and then they say ‘no it was that one’. There’s nothing there to be seen. So we’ll treat him now with no kid gloves.”