His hunch paid off when the exciting Cyrus Darius won a top novice hurdle at the Grand National meeting – and now he has set his sights on winning the Coral Scottish National with stable stalwart Cape Tribulation.
Now 11 years young, this most versatile of horses is one of 54 entries for Saturday’s showpiece at Ayr and Malton-based Jefferson has every confidence that the chaser will handle the four-mile plus trip and add to his career prize money that now stands in excess of £250,000.
This, after all, is a horse who had sufficient scope to win on the Flat at Nottingham in 2008 before pulling off a memorable double in the Spring of 2012 when winning over hurdles at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals.
Throw in Cape Tribulation’s past successes in Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick Chase and Cheltenham’s Argento Chase and it is easy to see why the in-form Jefferson has no qualms about running the 2013 Gold Cup fifth over an extended four miles.
“I think it should suit him,” the trainer told The Yorkshire Post. “The trip will suit and the ground won’t bother him.
“I will be surprised if he didn’t get four miles. Hopefully, he will run a big race.
“In his three-mile hurdle races, he’s been doing his best work at the finish. If you’re not in, you can’t win it – I suppose the only thing is the race is normally won by a young horse towards the bottom of the handicap. We’ll see.”
Cape Tribulation will be ridden by stable jockey Brian Hughes who recorded his maiden century of winners when partnering Warden Hill to victory at Market Rasen on Sunday.
“He’s a good rider and works hard at it,” said Jefferson.
Though the Jefferson stable could not buy a winner at the turn of the year, the yard has been in a rich vein of form of late and this was exemplified by the trainer’s bold decision to run Cyrus Darius in The E-Lites Top Novices’ Hurdle which the six-year-old then won by an imposing 10 lengths.
The quietly-spoken trainer’s satisfaction was self-evident as he was interviewed on Channel Four racing after his horse had crossed the line – it has been a lean winter for National Hunt yards in the North and Cyrus Darius offers hope for the future when he goes novice chasing next winter.
Yet, 24 hours before the race and minutes before the close of declarations, Cyrus Darius was not an intended runner.
“It’s always hard to chuck them in at the deep end but when I looked at what was going to run, I thought that there’s always a chance that the favourite might not run to his form and then the rest of them were much of a muchness on ratings,” explained Jefferson after his 23rd winner of the current campaign.
“I rang Brian (Hughes) and he was thinking we should go to Perth in 10 days time but I thought ‘bugger it’, as this was going to be his last run of the season anyhow. He’s going to grass now so I thought we’d take our chance.
“We’ll just leave him at grass and see what next season brings – he’ll go novice chasing next season. He’s just a lovely big horse who travels really well. I’d love to have a good two-mile chaser and he could be the one. He’s very nimble for a big horse and we’ve schooled him over fences.”
Meanwhile, Attaglance, the second Jefferson horse to pull off the Cheltenham and Aintree double in 2012, is due to run in tomorrow’s Grade Two Teenage Cancer Trust Silver Trophy Chase at the Cotswolds track.
“He’s in good nick,” added the trainer. “He has dropped down the handicap a bit this season. I’m very happy with him.”
Cole Harden is set to reappear in Wetherby’s bet365 Hurdle in November following a breakthrough campaign for trainer Warren Greatrex and jockey Gavin Sheehan.
The horse won last November’s renewal of the three-mile hurdle at the West Yorkshire track before landing the Grade One Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Though beaten by Nicky Henderson’s Whisper in a Grade One race at Aintree on Saturday, Greatrex is bullish that Cole Harden will be even better after a summer lay-off and that next year’s campaign will begin at Wetherby.
Philip Hobbs reports Balthazar King to be making “steady progress” as he recovers from his Grand National fall. The horse is being treated at the University of Liverpool Equine Hospital.
“He’s broken a couple of ribs and is sore but is eating and seems right in himself,” said Hobbs.
The soon-to-retire AP McCoy is to be the guest speaker at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground on June 26. Further details are available from www.mjksportsevents.co.uk or by telephoning 07414 960956.