Ruth Jefferson is not overly concerned that Waiting Patiently will be making his seasonal reappearance in the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
A setback last spring meant the seven-year-old’s current campaign has been slightly delayed, but the fledgling handler insisted the quick ground which has prevailed this autumn would have probably kept him off the track in any case.
Instead, Jefferson took her stable star to Hexham for a recent away day, where he jumped four fences, and the rest of his preparation will be done at home in Malton.
“He doesn’t need a lot of work, he’s probably better fresh,” she said.
“Some horses you might even work the day before they run, but he’s not like that, so I’m quite happy with where we are.
“I might have liked to have got a run into him, but when I realised the Haydock race (Betfair Chase) was coming too soon there weren’t any other suitable options in any case – and we wouldn’t have gone to Haydock because of the ground anyway.”
Waiting Patiently is second favourite for the Chirstmas cracker, behind last year’s winner Might Bite, and he is defending an unbeaten six-race streak over fences completed by success in the Betfair Ascot Chase 10 months ago.
“We didn’t see any point in wasting more time over hurdles, because he always looked like a chaser, but I’m not sure if we thought he’d be as good as he is,” added Jefferson, at a press morning organised by King George sponsors 32Red.
“We’ve had eight first-time-out winners this season, it was pointed out to me the other day, so we can get them fit enough at home.
“The all-weather gallop here is riding deeper this year, so they are having to work harder. It’s nice to know you can get them fit first time out. He’s always been a good work horse, though.”
Leading northern-based jockey Brian Hughes has been on board for all six of his chase wins – and Jefferson confirmed he will retain the association, despite not riding for the yard as much as he has in the past.
“Brian came last week to ride him in a piece of work, and rode him at Hexham for me – he’s leaving it a bit late now to tell me if he doesn’t want to ride him!” said Jefferson.
“I don’t think he’s a tricky horse to ride, but obviously in a race like that it’s better to have someone who knows him – for instance, he doesn’t like being struck behind the saddle.
“If you watch the Ascot race you can just see his tail go a little and his head come up, and then he starts hanging, so Brian will know all about that now.”