But­tons is bang on course for Wetherby chase

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - RACING - Tom Rich­mond RAC­ING COR­RE­SPON­DENT tom.rich­[email protected]­me­dia.co.uk @Opin­ionYP

FROM Tom Scu­d­amore’s emo­tional win on Sizing Ten­nessee in New­bury’s Ladbrokes Tro­phy to dual Cham­pion Hur­dle win­ner Bu­veur D’Air reaf­firm­ing his class in the Fight­ing Fifth Hur­dle at New­cas­tle, rac­ing was blessed by many high-class per­for­mances.

Yet few were as im­pres­sive as Lady But­tons after Phil Kirby’s mare was an eye-catch­ing win­ner of New­bury’s con­clud­ing two-mile hand­i­cap chase as jockey Adam Ni­col en­joyed an arm­chair ride on Jayne Sivill’s ‘horse of a life­time’.

Jump­ing for fun against her male coun­ter­parts, the mare will be tar­geted at Wetherby’s Castle­ford Chase on De­cem­ber 27 by the in-form Kirby, who trains near Rich­mond.

He had been up since be­fore day­break to feed Lady But­tons – and his string of race­horses – at 5am be­fore driv­ing the horse box to the Berk­shire track for a £40,000 race in which Lady But­tons cruised into the lead in the home straight de­spite Ni­col try­ing to ride a more pa­tient race.

Fol­low­ing a fine leap at the last, the eight-year-old – who has won 10 out of 24 starts for Sivills, who runs a pub near Whitby with her hus­band Keith – gained a com­mand­ing two-and-a-quar­ter­length vic­tory un­der hands and heels over the per­sis­tent Shear Rock.

“Lady But­tons is very, very good and keeps up­ping it ev­ery time. I am hop­ing the bet­ter the race, the bet­ter she will be – she just needs a lead into her race for a bit longer,” said Kirby.

“Adam said she jumped and trav­elled so well that she took him there and I hope that, in a re­ally good race, they might be able to carry into it for a bit longer.

“She was al­ways very good, but had a prob­lem as a young horse and we missed nearly 18 months. The own­ers have given me as much time as it takes to get her back and she is prob­a­bly com­ing back to what she was.

“She goes on any­thing and I have only minded her on fast ground be­cause of her legs from the old days. She is that quick that faster ground maybe helps her to get into the race fur­ther down the line but she goes on any­thing and loved that ground to­day.

“I was up feed­ing the horses at 5am and left the yard driv­ing the horse box a hour later. It will be a shorter trip back home and we will hope­fully re­turn to Wetherby for the Castle­ford Chase now.”

The win came a day after Ni­col’s 29th birth­day and thrilled his girl­friend, Jen­nie Dur­rans, who led up Lady But­tons.

Her pride was self- ev­i­dent. “Pure class! Lady But­tons is the Queen! A plea­sure to be a part of her train­ing, a joy to ride ev­ery day! Just love her!” she tweeted.

Such emo­tion matched the poignancy of 10-year-old Sizing Ten­nessee’s win in the Ladbrokes Tro­phy for trainer Colin Tiz­zard and, in do­ing so, be­com­ing the old­est win­ner of this his­toric race – formerly the Hen­nessy – since Ron­detto in 1967.

Run­ning in the colours of the late Alan and Ann Potts, and rid­den with more re­straint than the early pace­set­ters, who fell away on rain-soft­ened ground, the em- phatic vic­tory was ded­i­cated by Scu­d­amore to his late grand­fa­ther, who was laid to rest the pre­vi­ous day.

“I lost my grandad two weeks ago, my mother’s fa­ther, and it was his fu­neral yes­ter­day, but I wasn’t able to go (be­cause of rac­ing),” said the win­ning rider, who had won the cor­re­spond­ing race 10 years ago on Madi­son du Ber­lais.

“Those are the sac­ri­fices you make and I was so sorry that I wasn’t able to be there, but he was with us to­day. He was a tremen­dous man, and he helped a lot of peo­ple. This one is for him.

“Sizing Ten­nessee has al­ways been a good horse – I have said that all along and I re­ally fan­cied him. Even though he is 10, I felt that he was slightly un­der the radar. I didn’t ex­pect to win quite that well.”

The Welsh Na­tional is the ob­vi­ous tar­get for Sizing Ten­nessee as he looks to repli­cate the New­bury and Chep­stow big-race dou­ble that Na­tive River – now the reign- ing Chel­tenham Gold Cup cham­pion – pulled off in 2016.

At New­cas­tle, Nicky Hen­der­son’s Bu­veur D’Air put up a sub­lime per­for­mance un­der Barry Ger­aghty to land the Fight­ing Fifth – the first Grade One hur­dle of 2018-19 – from cham­pion novices Sam­cro and Sum­merville Boy. Owned by JP McManus, Kemp­ton’s Christ­mas Hur­dle on Box­ing Day is the next tar­get.

How­ever, the out­come was a bit­ter­sweet one for McManus after his Bleu Et Rouge, trained at Mid­dle­ham by Ben Haslam, suf­fered a fa­tal fall at the fourth last flight.

A qual­ity card saw the Re­hearsal Chase go to Lake View Lad, who was mak­ing a first start for lead­ing owner Trevor Hem­mings un­der Mid­dle­ham jockey Henry Brooke. Trained in Scot­land by Nick Alexan­der, the Grand Na­tional will be the long-term ob­jec­tive for the eight-year-old grey.

“It’s a nice way to start for Trevor any­way – and he’s still a young horse,” said Alexan­der.

I am hop­ing the bet­ter the race, the bet­ter she will be. Phil Kirby en­thus­ing about his vic­to­ri­ous charge Lady But­tons.

PIC­TURE: JU­LIAN HER­BERT/PA

TOP TRI­UMPH: Sizing Ten­nessee and Tom Scu­d­amore win the Ladbrokes Tro­phy race at New­bury.

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