Waiting Patiently in top form as he bids to win the King George crown at Kempton
Category : Horse Racing
RUTH JEFFERSON is in for an unusual Christmas Day.
While most people are sleeping off too much turkey, looking for receipts from the fourth pair of socks and getting stuck into a drunken argument with the in-laws, the Yorkshire trainer will have the delights of the M1 to amuse her.
Waiting Patiently was a Grade 1 winner when last sightedGetty Images – Getty
Missing the festive trimmings won’t bother Jefferson, though.
Her Christmas highlight comes on Boxing Day when stable star Waiting Patiently lines up in the 32Red King George at Kempton.
The devoted trainer will start the near five-hour journey from her Malton base on Christmas Day.
She chuckled: “Christmas Day is going to be get up, muck out, feed, pack the wagon, go to Kempton – maybe open some presents in between.
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“I’ll drive the box myself – I can multitask. I do a bit of everything still, we’re not big enough for me not to. I’m not Nicky Henderson.
“I’ll set off about lunchtime – I don’t think we’ll get a bad run. The lad who looks after him will come down with my brother on Boxing Day.”
It won’t be the first time she’s spent it at Kempton. The 37-year-old led up Dato Star – trained by her dad Malcolm – when he won the 1999 Christmas Hurdle.
As assistant to her dad – one of the most popular figures in jump racing – she was involved with some tremendous horses.
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Cape Tribulation and Attaglance won at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals six years ago. Horses like Go Informal, According To Pete and Cyrus Darius made sure Newstead Cottage Stables – built up from just 11 boxes by Malcolm and his wife Sue – regularly punched above its weight in big races.
Jefferson took over the training licence when Malcolm lost his battle with cancer in February little more than a couple of weeks after Waiting Patiently had won a Listed race at Kempton.
The seven-year-old stretched his unbeaten run to six chase wins when beating 2015 King George hero Cue Card, last week’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup winner Frodon and smart Top Notch in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase over 2m5f later in the month.
Ruth was formerly assistant trainer to her late dad MalcolmPA:Press Association
Jefferson revealed: “Fergal O’Brien texted me after the Ascot Chase win to say ‘Well done. It took me four years to win a Grade 1.’ – I was like ooh 17 days.
“I hope Waiting Patiently does win the King George as we might not get another like him. You just don’t know.
“I’m really pleased with him. He’d had a lovely summer on the grass and he looked fab when he came back. Since then he has never really given us a moment’s worry.
“When he won down there it was good to soft, soft in places and he loved it. Any rain would help us – he wouldn’t want it any quicker than good to soft.
“We don’t need it bottomless but we do need some cut in the ground. Soft would be ideal.
“It looks like he’ll stay. We’re certainly going to Kempton thinking he’ll stay.
“It’s not a worry to me because I think he will stay but until he does I suppose you don’t know.
“A lot of good horses will be effective over every trip won’t they. He has got speed, he has got stamina, probably his biggest asset is his ability to switch off in a race and not do too much too early which will help him see out the trip.”
Latest King George VI Chase betting
Might Bite 5-2
Waiting Patiently 9-2
Bristol De Mai 7-1
Native River 7-1
Despite a dream start to life with her name on the trainer’s licence it has not all been plain sailing.
Three of her best horses – Cloudy Dream, Mount Mews and Cyrus Darius – left the stables.
Ex-jump jockey Richard Collins – now boss of a seafood business supplying fish to chip shops up and down the land – has backed Jefferson.
He now has four horses in her care with Waiting Patiently the obvious star.
He’s not been seen since that coming-of-age win in the Ascot Chase in February. A leg problem ruled him out of Cheltenham and Aintree but Jefferson has no fitness worries.
She said: “When he came back from Ascot, we rode him out for a week and he looked fab.
“It then went cold and snowed and he looked blooming awful. His coat went, the weight dropped off him and he just looked terrible.
“We backed off him and he never came back to himself in time for Cheltenham so we trained him for Aintree. Then we found a bit of heat in his leg – he’d just damaged his tendon sheath.
“You don’t know how long these things take to heal so we just had to wait and see. He’s healed really well and every time we’ve scanned it it’s been fine. Everything so far, touch wood, has been good.
Waiting Patiently will take on last year’s King George winner Might BiteGetty Images – Getty
“I wouldn’t call him a fragile horse. He takes a lot out of himself in a race so he’s just maybe a horse who doesn’t take a lot of racing.
“If he only runs three times a year it doesn’t bother me the level he’s at – especially if he keeps winning.
“I hadn’t realised until I saw the statistics but we’ve had eight first-time out winners. It’s nice to know you can get them ready first time out.
“We always like them to come on for their first run but by December you’d pretty much hope they’d be fit if they’ve been in since July.
“The gallops are deeper this year so they’re fitter without really trying.
“Brian Hughes rides. He came in to school him a week or so ago. He’s won six races on him and he knows how to ride him.
“He doesn’t like being hit behind the saddle – he never has. You can hit him down the shoulder but he doesn’t like being hit around the bum.
“He starts flashing his tail and his head comes up. It’s the little things like that you need to know.”