RUTH JEFFERSON says the importance of horses like Waiting Patiently cannot be under-estimated when he lines up in tomorrow’s Grade One Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
On a day which also sees Yorkshire staying steeplechasers Vintage Clouds and Definitly Red contest Aintree’s Becher Chase over the Grand National fences, she’s looking forward to running her stable’s standard-bearer against some of the country’s top two mile steeplechasers.
Owned by Richard Collins, Waiting Patiently was a popular and poignant winner of the Ascot Chase in February last year after a mighty struggle with the now retired Cue Card – the landmark win at the highest level came just 24 hours after the funeral of Jefferson’s father Malcolm who was instrumental to the horse’s development.
Unlucky with injury, the chaser was brought down in last year’s King George VI chase at Kempton before being placed in Grade One races at Ascot and Aintree.
And while a rare bacterial infection meant he could not take his place in last month’s Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, Malton-based Jefferson is more than happy to head to Sandown today after taking the decision to drop Waiting Patiently back in trip to two miles.
Disregarded by many in a race headed by Defi Du Seuil, jump racing’s new headline horse was a recent winner at Cheltenham, Jefferson notes that Waiting Patiently is the joint second highest-rated runner in the Tingle Creek.
“He’s fine, absolutely fine,” she told The Yorkshire Post.
“The plan had been to go to Exeter – and that would have told us if we were right to go down the two mile route with him and where go next.
“After missing that, we thought right, we’ll drop him back to two miles anyway, and the Tingle Creek became the obvious race. It will be interesting.”
Acutely aware how difficult it is to acquire horses who are good enough to just compete in Grade One races, she’s hopeful that a strong showing from the horse, the mount of Brian Hughes, will reflect well on her stables and staff.
“It’s important you have that one horse and Waiting Patiently, on ratings, more than deserves his place in the line-up,” she added.
Meanwhile Philip Hobbs is confident the stiff nature of Sandown’s finish will play to the strengths of Defi Du Seuil who runs in the colours of JP McManus.
Already a dual Cheltenham Festival winner, he beat one of his main market rivals, Politologue, at Cheltenham last time out.
However Barry Geraghty’s mount is now 3lb worse off at the weights with the Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue.
Hobbs said: “Very soft ground would have been in our favour – because if it is very soft it would be more of a test over two miles.
“I always think that Sandown is a stiffer track than Cheltenham. From the Pond fence to the line, it is a real test of stamina, so it should suit him better than Cheltenham – and he managed to win at Cheltenham over two miles, so it should be more in his favour.”