Phil Kirby ponders Cheltenham options for Lady Buttons

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Lady Buttons' Cheltenham options include the Mares' Hurdle and the Champion Chase.
Lady Buttons' Cheltenham options include the Mares' Hurdle and the Champion Chase.

Phil Kirby is keeping his options open with his stable star Lady Buttons, though has admitted that a tilt at the Queen Mother Champion Chase has come under consideration. 

The North Yorkshire-based trainer is enjoying a fine campaign so far, winning a string of notable races in his home country - including Thursday’s North Yorkshire Grand National with Little Bruce - a run which continued with a win for Bertie Blake in the opening race at Sedgefield on Friday. 

The star of his yard however has undoubtedly been Lady Buttons, and Kirby has confirmed that a return to Doncaster later this month is on the cards for his star mare, who came out on top in thrilling a mares’ chase at the Yorkshire venue over the Christmas period.

He told Sky Sports Racing at Sedgefield on Friday: “Buttons is grand, she’s had a quietish time although she has been in work since she last ran, but she’ll go back to Doncaster on the 25th (of January) for the race she won last year, the Grade 2 Mares’ race.”

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The ten-year-old is admirably versatile, and Kirby added that her owners are keen for her to take her chance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase

“I know Keith and Jane (Sivills) are dreaming of the Champion Chase, that’s what they’d love to run in, and if she’s in good order we’ll look at it but there’s the Mares’ race as well over hurdles, which I persuaded them to run her in last year.

“She didn’t get a good run last year and was beaten too far out but she still finished fourth and ran really well so i think there is a lot of improvement on that. Maybe she doesn’t really suit Cheltenham - we don’t know - but she’s better this year than ever.”   

Lady Buttons is a general 33/1 shot for the Queen Mother Champion Chase behind the 7/2 joint favourites Altior and Defi Du Seuil, while she’s available at 20/1 for the Mares’ Hurdle, in which the Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle is the current 15/8 favourite.

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