Ruth Jefferson on Waiting Patiently’s King George quest

RUTH Jefferson believes Waiting Patiently can overcome a year-long absence and be a major contender in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase – the centrepiece of the Christmas racing programme.

This is Brian Hughes and Waiting Patiently winning the 2018 Ascot Chase for Yorkshire.

The lightly-raced nine-year-old heads to Kempton on Boxing Day on the back of a racecourse gallop under big race jockey Brian Hughes who was reportedly pleased with the horse’s wellbeing.

The sole Northern entry in the celebrated Grade One race, the Richard Collins-owned Waiting Patiently has not run since last December’s Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown when he was a fast finishing third to Philip Hobbs’ Defi Du Seuil.

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He has since undergone surgery to remove a chip from a joint and connections have been waiting for softer ground for the horse whose finest hour came in February 2018 when winning the Grade One Ascot Chase.

Waiting Patiently's trainer Ruth Jefferson.

Unlucky to be brought down in the 2018 King George with a circuit to go, the big unknown is whether this chaser – mercurial when at his very best – will stay the three-mile trip against horses of the calibre of dual winner Clan Des Obeaux and Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Santini who has been supplemented by champion trainer Nicky Henderson.

“We’re ready,” a confident-sounding Jefferson told The Yorkshire Post. “Because he hasn’t run for a while, we took him for an away day. It was nice to get him away – the horse was happy and the jockey (Brian Hughes) was happy.”

Jefferson is also encouraged by Waiting Patiently’s consistency in Grade One races – he’s been placed in four races at the highest level and his only mishap came in the King George two years ago.

And the manner of the horse’s Ascot Chase win, digging deep to defeat the legendary Cue Card, offers further grounds for optimism.

She said the horse needed real stamina to come up the hill to land that race over a testing two miles five furlongs made even more arduous by the ground conditions on the day.

Confident that Waiting Patiently settles better now in his race, and does not over-exert himself early on, she added: “He’s run some lovely races in these Grade Ones. He always runs his race, but because he is injury prone, people forget about him.

“It’s just a year since he was finishing third in a Tingle Creek and very close to winning it. I think he’s still capable and don’t see why he won’t run his race.”

Meanwhile the aforementioned Hughes recorded a treble yesterday at Musselburgh to extend his lead in this year’s title race. The North Yorkshire rider is the reigning champion jockey and involved in a tight contest with Harry Cobden who partners Cyrname, winner of Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase, in the King George.

However Cyrname’s three Grade One wins have all come at Ascot – including a wide-margin win over Waiting Patiently in the 2019 Ascot Chase.

Meanwhile, resurgent chaser Yorkhill could feature in Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick Chase on Boxing Day.

The horse rolled back the years to win last month’s Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle for golfer Lee Westwood and co-owner David Armstrong.

It vindicated their decision to entrust the former Cheltenham Festival winner, previously trained in Ireland by Willie Mullins, to Sandy Thomson who trains in the Scottish Borders.

Yorkhill’s success at Newcastle was also jockey Ryan Mania’s most notable win since the 2013 Grand National-winning jockey made a comeback just over a year ago.

Thomson has also entered the veteran Seeyouatmidnight while the sole Yorkshire entry is Brian Ellison’s Windsor Avenue.

Ellison says Sam’s Adventure will be given time to recover from his Tommy Whittle Chase win at Haydock on Saturday.

“He seems to have come out of the race fine, but I wouldn’t run him back in a hurry – these races take a lot out of them,” Ellison added.

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