Sad news broke this morning that Norton based trainer Malcolm Jefferson has passed away at the age of 71. While it came as no surprise because Malcolm has been poorly for sometime, it is still a shock and it will seem strange not seeing him on a regular basis on the northern tracks, invariably in his well worn green jacket and cap. Ironically, the stable enjoyed their best ever season last year with 40 winners and I remember Gordon Richards' former assistant saying he felt it was the strongest team of horses he had ever had.
There have been so many highlights during his career - he was responsible for the first British trained winner of the Cheltenham Festival bumper when Dato Star won in 1995 and who will ever forget the famous Cheltenham/Aintree double achieved by stablemates Attaglance and Cape Tribulation in 2012. That was a magnificent achievement in its own right. Those were some of the more profile winners but I was brought up watching horses like Kings Measure and Tullymurry Toff. I am no paddock judge but Malcolm's horses always stood out in the parade ring with their orange breastgirth. He seemed to buy the same type of horse, namely good looking and scopey and very much a chaser in the making. I was fortunate to visit him at his yard at Newstead Cottage Stables outside Norton, including the 25th August last year. In fact, that is the last time I saw Malcolm. Despite the fact he was heading to York the same afternoon to watch Master of Finance run, he found time to run through his jump horses for my book. That is the sort of bloke he was - he loved talking about his horses. Never afraid to have a go at the handicapper, in particular, both he and his wife Sue always made me feel welcome. Northern jump racing has enjoyed a revival this season but it suffered a major loss today and it will take some time getting to used to not seeing J.M.Jefferson on the racecard or in the Racing Post.
If ever a horse was more appropriately named, Waiting Patiently was just that as far as Malcolm Jefferson was concerned. That was arguably his trademark giving his horses time and being rewarded in the long run. If there is any justice in the world, the aforementioned will win at the Cheltenham Festival next month. He will be sorely missed.
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