Waiting Patiently lined up for return to Kempton

Waiting Patiently and Brian Hughes, right, lead Cue Card away from the last fence to win the Betfair Ascot Steeple Chase last February (Picture: Julian Herbert/PA Wire).
Waiting Patiently and Brian Hughes, right, lead Cue Card away from the last fence to win the Betfair Ascot Steeple Chase last February (Picture: Julian Herbert/PA Wire).
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Waiting Patiently could return to Kempton on Saturday provided ground conditions are deemed suitable.

Ruth Jefferson’s stable star won his first six starts over fences including a Grade One triumph in the Ascot Chase last February.

He made his first appearance since in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, but was badly hampered by the fall of Bristol De Mai before the race got going in earnest, giving Brian Hughes no chance of staying in the saddle.

Waiting Patiently returned to his Norton base none the worse, and Jefferson is keen to get him back on the racecourse as soon as possible.

Jefferson said: “We’ve put him in the Listed race on Saturday, and it all depends on the ground.

“There is a bit of rain forecast, but a bit of rain might not be enough. We’ll just have to wait and see.

“He’s fit and ready to go. We’ve had no issues at all since the King George.

“If he’d been brought down and come back with problems that would have been a nightmare. It was bad enough being brought down, but at least he came back absolutely fine.”

Waiting Patiently is one of 12 entries for the two-and-a-half-mile 32Red Casino Chase – which he won 12 months ago – with Kim Bailey’s Peterborough Chase winner Charbel, Mick Channon’s Cheltenham Festival hero Mister Whitaker and Nicky Henderson’s Top Notch among his potential rivals.

Should he sidestep this weekend’s engagement he could take on Henderson’s superstar Altior in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday week or head to the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown early next month.

“If we wait for the Clarence House he’d probably be taking on Altior – and when you’re taking on a horse like him, with everything in his favour, you know going into it the scales are tipped against you,” Jefferson added.

“He’s in the two Grade Ones at Leopardstown – the Irish Gold Cup and the two-mile race (Dublin Chase) – and after that you’ve got the Ascot Chase.

“Then you’re on to Cheltenham and Aintree, so we’ll just have to see where it rains.”

Tom Lacey may move Kateson up in trip for the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster.

The Herefordshire trainer has earmarked the extended three-mile Grade Two race on January 26 as a possible target for the six-year-old after his unbeaten run over hurdles came to an end in last month’s Challow Hurdle at Newbury.

Lacey said: “I thought that was a fantastic run from Kateson in the Challow – I was very pleased with him.

“We might look at going for the River Don at Doncaster. That looks like the obvious target, although it would have to be soft ground for him to run. He is in great nick and has come out of the race at Newbury really well.”

Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape is likely to be stepped back up to the top table on his next start by heading straight to the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Trainer Colin Tizzard has indicated the seven-year-old, yet to win in six previous attempts at Grade One level, will have a short break before joining stablemates Thistlecrack and reigning Gold Cup winner Native River in the highlight of the Festival on March 15.

Tizzard said: “Elegant Escape is now rated 159 and is only about 7lb away from being a Gold Cup horse. He might make a Grand National horse as well because he is a tough stayer. We’ve just got to sit and think about it, but the fact is he has won at Sandown, won a Welsh National by outstaying them all and was second in a Ladbrokes Trophy.”