IF ever a horse’s name epitomised its profile and campaign, it is Malcolm Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently, who extended his unbeaten record over fences to three victories with a thoroughly impressive win in Haydock’s Grade Two novice chase.
This was just the sixth start in the career of the six-year-old, who was trained previously at Saltburn by the soon-to-retire Keith Reveley, before switching to Jefferson’s Malton stables at the start of the current campaign.
Sired by the top National Hunt stallion Flemensfirth, jockey Brian Hughes bided his time on the horse before surging past the highly-rated and previously unbeaten Politologue, from the yard of champion trainer Paul Nicholls, after the second-last fence.
After a win that confirmed Waiting Patiently was good enough to take his place at the Cheltenham Festival in either the two-mile Arkle, or two-mile five-furlong JLT Novices Chase, connections said they would almost certainly miss National Hunt’s showpiece meeting.
Their reasons were two-fold. This exciting novice needs soft going, which is unlikely at a fast-draining Cheltenham, and they do not want to ask too much of the horse at this early stage of his chasing career.
“He’s only a young horse, it’s his third run over fences,” said Jefferson. “He’s a young horse going places. He likes soft ground, I don’t think he likes sticky, which it was out there.
“We hope he’s better than a handicapper, but he’s still got a bit to prove. He’s a young horse who I hope will improve with another year on him.
“He will get an entry for Cheltenham, but he wouldn’t run unless it was softer ground, which is very unlikely.
“It wouldn’t bother me if he didn’t go because he’s a Flemensfirth – they need the soft – and he’s a really nice horse.
“He’s only a baby. He’s ground dependent.”
Though this race was over two miles three furlongs, Jefferson told The Yorkshire Post that he thinks Waiting Patiently will be best suited to two-mile races because the horse possesses a discernible turn of pace that was self-evident on his previous run at Newcastle.
The horse runs in the colours of popular Northern owner Richard Collins who has owned the likes of Night In Milan in the past.
Delighted with the run, he simply said “we will go where the ground is soft” with Waiting Patiently before lauding Hughes as “the best jockey in the North”.
This race was a battle between Hughes and Politologue’s rider Sam Twiston-Davies, who are defending champion Richard Johnson’s closest pursuers in this year’s title race.
But it was Twiston-Davies who was victorious in Haydock’s Champion Hurdle Trial when enigmatic The New One showed all his guts to beat off Clyne in a thriller with the Hughes-ridden and Jefferson-trained Cyrus Darius fourth following a long lay-off – the North Yorkshire horse was too keen for his own good early on.
The New One is now the winner of 18 out of 28 career starts, and has won in excess of £880,000 in prize money. The jockey’s father Nigel, who trains The New One, is now contemplating a fourth tilt at the Champion Hurdle.
The New One made the running until Clyne set sail for home and briefly looked in trouble, with L’Ami Serge moving up menacingly on the far rail.
The winner even clattered the third-last flight, but that did not stop Twiston-Davies’s grand servant from pulling out more to gamely prevail by a length. L’Ami Serge failed to go through with his effort and was only third, while Irving fell at the fourth flight.
Asked to explain what The New One means to him, Twiston-Davies junior told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s very hard to describe. He’s taken me, and my career, to places I never thought I would go.”
On the horse’s battling qualities and longevity, he put it down to “a very good trainer”, and to those critics who never miss an opportunity to crab The New One, the jockey said: “It doesn’t bother me.
“It upsets Nige more because he spends so much time with the horse. I’ve got better at handling the criticism and putting it to one side. The horse has still got it.”
The Twiston-Davies stable made it a big race double when Bristol De Mai was a wide-margin winner of the Peter Marsh Chase under Daryl Jacob – the victor was clear when Sue Smith’s Vintage Clouds fell at the third last and hampered Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red.
The trainer now has to decide whether to take on Thistlecrack in the Cheltenham Gold Cup or opt for the Ryanair Chase – owners favour the latter while Twiston-Davies senior is never one to shy away from a challenge.