Brian Hughes: do not underestimate classy Cloudy Dream in Ryanair Chase
The matter of Waiting Patiently’s participation in the Ryanair Chase on Thursday week remains with owner Richard Collins and trainer Ruth Jefferson but, regardless of their final decision, regular rider Brian Hughes thinks the stable has an able deputy in Cloudy Dream.
Having stormed to a first Grade 1 success in the Ascot Chase last month, Waiting Patiently is a general 7-2 second favourite for the Ryanair behind reigning champion Un De Sceaux.
Yet despite last week’s snow increasing the possibility of conditions turning in Waiting Patiently’s favour at Cheltenham on March 15, connections fear the track’s undulations would play against him.
The same cannot be said for Cloudy Dream, who chased home Altior in last year’s Racing Post Arkle and finished second to stars Smad Place, Fox Norton, Definitly Red and Native River in four runs this season, making him a 14-1 shot for the Ryanair with SkyBet and BetBright.
“He’s a good traveller and a good jumper and his strength is that he can jump at pace,” said Hughes. “He’s a better jumper when they’re going a good gallop and I feel he’s been called a few names unnecessarily.
"We were running over three miles to see if he got the trip and have bumped into two decent horses. Either one of them, Native River or Definitly Red, could win a Gold Cup and we’ve met them on ground that didn’t suit us, so I do think he’s good enough for a race like the Ryanair.
"We’re hoping the ground would dry out – it’s the first day on the New track so hopefully it won’t be too testing.”
Asked if the possibility of testing ground enhanced Waiting Patiently’s chances of running, Hughes said: “I don’t know. The owner was keen to keep him on a level track and with plenty of cut in the ground but they’re conversations for the owner and trainer to have and wherever he runs I’ll just be glad to be on his back.
“If they want to run great, but if they don’t I won’t be quibbling – they make the decisions. I, the owner and the trainer all feel he’s better on a flatter track. He’s only a young horse and we want to make the right decision with him."
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com