Waiting Patiently’s next task, after a luckless exit from the King George on Boxing Day, could be to take on the mighty Altior at Ascot a fortnight on Saturday. Ruth Jefferson revealed on Sunday that she has given her horse an entry in the Clarence House Chase as she casts about for a suitable stepping stone to the Cheltenham Festival.
Choosing the right race, in this instance, is beset by difficulties. The Malton trainer would like to find out more about her charge’s capabilities before settling on his Festival target. More pressingly, she has a fit horse on her hands, bursting for a run; equally, he should not be risked on too dry a surface and there is very little rain around.
The first option for Waiting Patiently is a Listed race at Kempton on 12 January which he won last year, but Jefferson fears the ground may then have lost what moisture it had on Boxing Day. “Kempton was just all right for him the other day. If it dried out, we wouldn’t go,” she said.
“Ascot isn’t far from Kempton but would probably hold the water a little bit better. But we’ve just got that rather large problem of Altior.
“I could do with Mr Henderson being very kind and leaving Altior at home. He’s leagues above at two miles, head and shoulders above everything else in that division.” Joking, she added: “Can’t he go back to Newbury next, like he normally does?”
Failing Kempton and Ascot, Jefferson has her eye on Leopardstown’s Dublin Chase in early February. But none of those races will tell her if Waiting Patiently stays far enough to justify a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, making it all the more unfortunate that he was taken out of the King George by a falling rival at the halfway point. He will be given a Gold Cup entry but the Ryanair seems his likely Festival target. The Irish Gold Cup is another possible target.
“You’re just a bit gutted, aren’t you?” Jefferson said, reflecting on the improbabilities of what happened. “Kempton’s not a place they get a lot of fallers and Bristol De Mai’s never fallen in his life before. So, of all the things you thought would happen, that wasn’t one of them. We weren’t even following him, he rolled in front of us. Thankfully our horse appears to be fine and it sounds like Bristol De Mai is all right, too, and that’s the main thing.
“There’s no problems with Waiting Patiently’s legs, there’s no problems with his back or anything else. I haven’t rode him yet and something may come to light when he’s ridden. But the vets have checked him over and they’re happy with him, so we’re not anticipating any problems.”