Waiting Patiently foils gallant Cue Card in race of the season

In one of Malcolm Jefferson's last conversations about Waiting Patiently he told owner Richard Collins never to be afraid of any other horse.

And how he justified the faith placed in him by the much-missed former trainer when he overcame evergreen 12-year-old and two-time race winner Cue Card to make his Grade 1 breakthrough in the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday.

Billed as the race of the season, that proved no overstatement as the hope of Yorkshire, the seven-year-old who was unbeaten in five starts over fences and now in the care of Jefferson's daughter Ruth, fought toe to toe with his far more experienced rival.

The pair had the race between them over the final two fences but it was Waiting Patiently who sealed the win at the last fence as he was driven to a two and a quarter-length victory the day after Jefferson's funeral took place.

Frodon was 15 lengths back in third, with Top Notch fourth. Traffic Fluide was last of the five finishers, with well-fancied Irish raider Coney Island and Speredek pulled up.

As he crossed the line winning jockey Brian Hughes blew a kiss to the heavens, saying afterwards: "Malcolm would be bollocking me as I got there too soon."

Collins said: "After the funeral yesterday this is quite emotional but Malcolm would be very proud, and very proud of Ruth of course.

"One thing me and Malcolm had a chat about before he died was don't be frightened of anything. He said, 'This horse is a good horse'. From there I was never daunted about coming down here. What makes this horse special is that turn of foot."

As well as undaunted, neither Collins nor Ruth Jefferson are as much in awe of the Cheltenham Festival as many others.

Waiting Patiently was cut to a general 7-2 second favourite (from 6) for the Ryanair Chase behind Un De Sceaux but may not run at the meeting.

Collins said: "We decided to go the two-and-a-half-mile route this season but the main aim will be the King George next season. He's a winter-ground horse.

"I would say to anybody who is thinking of backing him for the Ryanair, just hold your bets at the moment. Unless it's soft we will not go.

"And I still think he's a better horse on a flat track like here, Kempton, Aintree or Haydock."

Jefferson said: "This to us could have been his Cheltenham because we don't know what ground we'd get and even if we get soft ground we might stop and think about it.

"We don't want to rush him and he might not be a horse that wants a lot of racing every year. We will probably confirm him for the Ryanair and then decide ten minutes before declarations.

"There are plenty of other races bar Cheltenham. Everyone else is obsessed by Cheltenham. We are not that fussed. We are not going to risk him for the sake of it. There is Aintree or Punchestown, other places we can go."

Malcolm Jefferson passed away 16 days earlier, with his daughter sending out her first winner in her name at Kelso on Thursday, the day before hundreds turned out in Malton to pay their final respects.

Reflecting on the past fortnight, she said: "Dad would have loved to have been here and he would have loved nothing more than to see this horse remain unbeaten.

"He did say it would be good to get beat just to lower everyone's expectations, but I'm glad he didn't do it today when it was his first run in my name.

"Dad had a lot of belief in this horse and rated him very highly. No-one would have been shouting louder as he came over the line had he been here."