RUTH JEFFERSON is set to run stable star Waiting Patiently in the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown this week.
The Malton trainer had also been considering assignments at Huntingdon, and Punchestown, for the Richard Collins-owned horse.
However she has opted for this two-mile test that features eight runners – final declarations are due to be made today.
Victorious in the Grade One Ascot Chase in February 2018, Waiting Patiently has been hit by injury – and bad luck – in subsequent outings.
Brought down in last year’s King George VI Chase at Kempton, the horse then chased home Cyrname, the highest-rated National Hunt horse in training, in this year’s Ascot Chase before being placed at Aintree. Potential rivals include the Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil – the champion novice was a very impressive winner at Cheltenham last month – and Politologue who won the 2017 renewal for champion trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden.
The fact that Brian Hughes, the North’s leading rider, will be at Sandown to ride Waiting Patiently means Henry Brooke has been lined up to partner Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red in Aintree’s Becher Chase over the Grand National course.
This comes after Definitly Red’s regular rider Danny Cook opted to ride Sue and Harvey Smith’s Vintage Clouds in the Grand National trial following much agonising on his part.
A first fence casualty in this year’s National when overjumping, connections want Vintage Clouds – owned by Trevor Hemmings – to gain some match practice at Aintree before a second tilt next April at the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Meanwhile Sulekha Varma is “honoured” to be appointed as Aintree’s new clerk of the course. Andrew Tulloch announced in October he would be stepping down from the role – and Varma, who has has been racing manager and clerk at Hamilton since 2016, has been chosen as his successor.
She will therefore become the first woman to hold the role at Aintree.
Varma started as a trainee with Jockey Club Racecourses at Haydock Park in 2009 and has been clerk at four other JCR tracks – Nottingham, Market Rasen, Warwick and Huntingdon – between 2010 and 2016.
She also has a longstanding relationship with Aintree, having worked as part of the team delivering the Grand National Festival for the past 10 years – assisting Tulloch, who will still have an advisory role.
“It is a hugely exciting opportunity to join the team who stage the UK’s most famous horse race – and I am very much looking forward to getting started,” she said.
Tom George is undecided as to whether to let The Worlds End have another crack at Paisley Park in the Marsh Hurdle at Ascot.
An impressive winner of the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby on Charlie Hall Chase day, the eight-year-old went in search of a Grade Two double in last Friday’s Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.
But Adrian Heskin’s mount had to make do with minor honours in third behind Emma Lavelle’s star stayer and the veteran Thistlecrack.
George will let the dust settle before deciding whether to let his charge take on Paisley Park again in the Marsh Hurdle – better known as the Long Walk – on December 21, or travel to Ireland a week later.
“We were pleased with the way he ran at Newbury. He was giving 6lb to Thistlecrack, but Paisley Park beat us fair and square and how we turn the odds on him, I’m not quite sure,” said George. “We just have to do the right thing by our horse.”