'He's so well he'd have hurt someone!' - Waiting Patiently set for Saturday epic
Northern ace Waiting Patiently has come out of his superb King George run so well that it has convinced connections to attempt an audacious southern raid in a red-hot running of the Matchbook Betting Exchange Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
Second in Kempton's Christmas feature, Waiting Patiently is now set to drop all the way back to two miles and a furlong in a clash with Champion Chase hero Politologue and last year's winner Defi Du Seuil.
Ruth Jefferson was set to wait until next month with the high-class ten-year-old, with the Betfair Ascot Chase – the Grade 1 in which Waiting Patiently had his finest hour when beating Cue Card in 2018 – on the agenda, but she and owner Richard Collins have instead supplemented him for this weekend's Grade 1 to add extra spice to the race.
Coral make Politologue, who bagged the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase before Christmas, their 5-4 favourite, but Waiting Patiently is next best at 5-2 and those odds could shorten given the positive update issued about him by Jefferson on Monday.
The trainer, based in North Yorkshire, said: "He came out of the King George so well that he only had two days off because he was going to hurt someone if I didn't ride him out!
"He was absolutely bouncing so we started riding him out and I was a bit miffed I didn't enter him in this in the first place. Richard text me about supplementing, so I said we'd train him for it and if everything was fine we'd supplement.
"We had it in the back of our minds but didn't want to state it. We just thought if the horse was well today and he's trotted up for the vets, we'd go for it."
A winner of seven of his 14 starts, Waiting Patiently found only Frodon too good in the King George and the prospect of dropping back in trip is not fazing Jefferson.
"He's eating great and very happy in himself," she added. "He seems well and the ground is forecast to be in his favour. He finished third in the Tingle Creek last season and we thought while we have a fit, healthy, sound, happy horse who seems that he wants to race we'll put him in and give him a run.
"It also gives us more time for Cheltenham. We had been thinking of the Ascot Chase in February, but the time between that and Cheltenham isn't ideal.
"Someone said he finished faster than any horse in King George history from the back of the third-last, so he's not slow. He's got a high cruising speed and good turn of foot when he gets into full flight.
"The ground was as quick as he'd want it at Kempton and I wouldn't run him over two miles on that ground, but because it's soft with rain forecast, he's not going to be inconvenienced by it. You're going to need that combination of speed and stamina that he has. He's as fit as a flea and schooled last week."
Defi Du Seuil, a 7-2 shot with Coral for the £100,000 contest, is also due to line up, but needs to rebound from being pulled up in the Shloer Chase in November, which followed a tame effort behind Politologue when a short-priced favourite in the Champion Chase last term.
His trainer Philip Hobbs said on Monday morning: "Nothing came to light after the Shloer, but he seems in very good form. He seems fine, so that's why we're cracking on with this in mind."
Asked if he thought his dual festival winner retained his brilliance despite his dim displays, the leading trainer replied: "Yes, definitely. He's been very well and schooled well this morning so everything is good, while the ground was very testing when he won there last year."
Ascot's clerk of the course Chris Stickels on Monday described the going as soft and said: "We had 6mm of rain on Saturday, sleety, snowy stuff and then rain, while yesterday was dry and breezy.
"We have got an unsettled windy forecast for the middle of the week and we're forecast between 25-28mm of rain, so if we get that I'd have thought we'd be looking at heavy in the going description.
"Friday and Saturday looks drier, but colder. Originally we thought snow was forecast, but now it just looks like it's going to be drier with an overnight frost on Saturday morning."
Clarence House Chase
Coral: 5-4 Politologue, 5-2 Waiting Patiently, 7-2 Defi Du Seuil, 10 Fanion D'Estruval, First Flow, 12 Duc De Genievres, 16 Impact Factor, 25 Bun Doran, 50 Le Patriote, 66 Benatar
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