Was really impressed with Waiting Patiently in the big race at Ascot yesterday. It was as good an Ascot Chase as I can remember and the way he came through smoothly to deny that lion Cue Card was excellent. Indeed, Cue Card, who won this race 12 months earlier – AND 5 years earlier – put on a show of jumping and travelling that makes you wonder why retirement seems imminent. Frodon also showed he remains on the upgrade with a decent run in third.
As has been well reported, this was a poignant victory for Waiting Patiently, following the recent sad death of his handler Malcolm Jefferson. Running now in the name of Malcolm’s daughter Ruth, its not bad to get a Grade One as only your second ever winner. He looks a horse with a big future. Maybe the Ryanair next? Will take a very good horse to beat him.
For top Northern jockey Brian Hughes this was a real red letter day, a first Grade one as the highlight of an Ascot treble. I bet Hughes can’t quite believe how his career has taken off over the past couple of years. Good luck to him.
I found it a tough punting day at Ascot but I knew that was likely when Dame De Compagnie was beaten a nose in the first by 12-1 shot Point of Principle. I thought Barry Geraghty was a little over-confident to be honest and should have won, but allowed the winner first run and couldn’t quite peg him back. Couldn’t decide between Regal Encore and Minella Daddy. Went for the latter who jumped the last in front but not as fluently as Regal Encore, who on a going day for once, got away from the last quickest and went on to win.
Black Corton was too obvious in the Reynoldstown and duly won comfortably enough (I backed Mount Mews). I think this horse, and his jockey Bryony Frost are what I’d call a lucky horse and lucky jockey respectively. That is not a criticism, you want people who create their own luck and are successful. Frost particularly has been one of the stars of this jumps season.
Some called the Ascot Chase the race of the season so far in Britain. Maybe. It was full of good horses. Unfortunately Coney Island did his Gold Cup or Ryanair prospects no good pulling up, and Top Notch didn’t quite run as one might have hoped but for all that I think we saw a new star in the jumps game. Good for the North, good for racing.