Ruth Jefferson is keen to find out for sure if Waiting Patiently stays three miles in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
The Grade One winner turns 10 soon yet has had only 13 races in his career -winning seven – and Jefferson herself describes him as “physically fragile”.
Waiting Patiently ran in the King George two years ago and was 4-1 second favourite behind Might Bite but got only as far as the ninth fence when he jumped into the back of Bristol De Mai and unseated Brian Hughes.
“I’m 99.9 per cent sure that is where we are going,” Jefferson told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.
“He’s just a horse who is a little bit physically fragile. He’s a horse who only takes three races a year anyway.
“After he won the Ascot Chase in 2018 he got a bang on his tendon, (and) we thought we’d end up missing a whole year, but he didn’t. We brought him back for the King George when he got unseated and then we ran in the Ascot Chase when he was second to Cyrname.
“After that we went to Aintree – but he wasn’t right there, so we put him away and went for a Tingle Creek where he ran an absolute blinder but unfortunately after that he had a chip forming in his joint which had to be removed and meant he missed the rest of last season.
“Richard (Collins, owner) was very keen to try three miles again, so that is where we are going, the King George.”
Since his finest hour at Ascot in Feburary 2018, Waiting Patiently has run only four times.
“A lot of good horses now only run three times a season – it goes back to Henrietta Knight with Best Mate,” added Malton trainer Jefferson.
“If you get three runs out of a horse and they are all in Grade One or Twos and they run their race every time you kind of don’t mind.
“To finish so close in a Tingle Creek but then have to finish his season there was a little bit gutting – but we’re optimistic fools who train racehorses, so we’re back again.
“You can make a case for and against him getting the trip. We know he has the pace for two miles – but when he won the Ascot Chase against Cue Card they went an absolute gallop and it’s a very stiff climb to the finish there.
“He’d be the first horse in his family to stay three miles. He’s a half-brother to McFabulous, and I think I’m right in thinking they didn’t feel he stayed three miles at Newbury – but he does settle well and he won’t over-race.
“To be honest, we don’t know. If we’d found out two years ago we might not have been here this week. He might be one of those horses to whom trip is irrelevant. He’s definitely still got his ability, he hasn’t slowed down.
“All I really want is a clear round, then we’ll know if he stays or if he’s good enough. Two years ago he was nearly favourite, I think. Now we’re 25-1 and forgotten about.”