Kirby: Top Ville Ben could head straight to Aintree

Top Ville Ben (right) is set to bypass Cheltenham in favour of Aintree's Grand National meeting.
Top Ville Ben (right) is set to bypass Cheltenham in favour of Aintree's Grand National meeting.

Phil Kirby expects Top Ville Ben to bypass next month's Cheltenham Festival in favour of a trip to Aintree, while he's holding his cards close to his chest with regards to his star mare Lady Buttons...

The son of Beneficial was a respectable third behind Grade 1 winners Lostintranslation (first) and Topofthegame (second) in the Mildmay Novices' Chase at the Merseyside venue last spring, and it could be the Betway Bowl over the same trip which the star stayer targets next.

Kirby said: “You wouldn't know he had a run at Cheltenham, and I’m tempted to wait till Aintree. It'll be either a tilt at the Grand National or the Bowl, the three-mile race, over the same trip he ran well over last year.”

Speaking of the eight-year-old’s liking of the track, Kirby added: “He loves the track and a bit of rain wouldn't do him any harm and he's come out of Cheltenham A1.”

Kirby is also keen to see how the handicapper frames the big race itself, and has long thought of his charge as the ideal type for the unique test the Grand National presents. This is a view shared by the gelding’s regular partner Tommy Dowson, who has been in the handler’s ear in a bid to twist his arm.

Kirby said: “Tommy's desperate to ride him in it! He'll need a little bit of help off his mark to be competitive, but he's the type of horse who could run well in the race. He’s still a little unexposed, if not a little highly rated, but it's a good problem to have I suppose.” 

Also in the care of Kirby at his Green Oaks Farm base is the popular mare Lady Buttons, who has looked as good as ever when landing back-to-back Doncaster victories of late.

The handler gave a glowing report regarding the Cheltenham preparations for the 10-year-old, but was keen to stress that a decision on her Festival destination - and whether to target the Champion Chase or the Mares' Hurdle - will be left till the very last minute. 

He said: “She's in good order and has come out of Doncaster well.

“She'll go to one of the races at Cheltenham, but I’ll decide last minute. We'll see what everyone else is doing first and it won’t hinder us to decide at the last minute.”

He added that the destinations of the likes of Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux could play a key part in his plans; “... the mares race looks red-hot and where the other mares go could have more of a bearing. They’re both competitive, but we'll pick the best race for Lady Buttons nearer the time.”

Grand National Odds
£20 Risk Free First bet
Limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your FIRST bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is  £20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. Paddy's Rewards Club: Get a  £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of  £10+. T&C's apply, 18+
Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets
New customers using Promo Code P30 only, min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15 (30 days expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply. T&C's apply, 18+
Welcome Offer
Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5 and 1x settled bet requirement to release Bet Credits. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&C's apply, 18+
Bet £10 Get £30 + 30 Free Spins
You must stake £10 or more at single/cumulative odds of Evens (2.0) or greater on your first bet. Free bet balance of £30 credited within 48 hours of your first bet being settled. Free Bets expire after 7 days. E-Wallet restrictions apply. Minimum 5 game rounds. Game restrictions apply. Maximum 30 Free Spins on selected games. Free Spins expire after 7 days. T&C's apply, 18+
Bet £5 Get £30
New Customers only. Deposit and place a £5 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 Free Sports Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days, plus a £10 Casino Bonus, expires in 7 days. Wager the Casino Bonus 35x to withdraw winnings. Credit/Debit card deposits only. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly
Bet £10 Get £40
New customers only – £10 deposit using promo code "FOOTBALL" or "RACING"- First bet must be placed on any market - Minimum stake £10 at odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Deposit balance is available for withdrawal at any time. General deposit method & withdrawal restrictions apply & Full T&C’s apply. 18+
Free £20 Exchange Bet
New customers only, bet up to €/£20 on the Exchange and if your first bet loses, we’ll refund you €/£20 in Cash. Bet must be placed in first 7 days of account opening. T&Cs apply, 18+
Up to £30 in Free Bets
New UK & Ireland Customers Only. Min Deposit: £/€10. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Credit Card, Debit Card & PayPal deposits only. T&C's apply, 18+
Bet £10 on Football & Get £30 Bonus + £10 Casino Bonus
New customers only. 18+, Minimum deposit £10. UK customers only. Place a £10+ bet on football of odds 1/1 (2.00) or greater to receive your 3x£10 in football free bets. Free bets will expire 7 days after your qualifying bet is settled. £10 Casino bonus will be credited the next working day after you have deposited. Casino bonus must be wagered at least 35x before any withdrawals can take place. T&C's apply, 18+
£25 Bet Bundle
18+ T&Cs apply. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. ** **18+. UK/IRE customers only. Max refund £20. Win or win part of e/w outright singles only. Min field size required. 1st bet on each race. Free bet expires after 7 days. Ante post bets after 9am 5/3/2019 qualify. Free/void bets don’t qualify. T&Cs apply. is committed to supporting Reponsible Gambling Initiatives - For additional information visit : GamCare | BeGambleAware | Gamblers Anonymous

Content on is not intended for anybody under 18 years of age.