PHIL KIRBY enjoyed the best day of his training career when completing a remarkable treble on Charlie Hall Chase day at Wetherby.
The run of success began when stable star Lady Buttons won the Listed Mares Hurdle from Oscar Rose and Irish Roe.
Owned and bred by Jayne and Keith Sivills, Catterick-based Kirby believes Lady Button will be even better over fences as the season progresses.
Runner up 12 months ago, Lady Buttons was, once again, partnered by regular rider Adam Nicol who couldn’t believe how well the horse travelled in the race before surging clear.
It was a confidence-boosting win for Kirby who spent five months on the injury sidelines with a broken left hand. “This means everything,” he said. “Though she won a Listed Chase last season, this is special because I’ve been off. Hopefully it will get the season going.”
Meanwhile, his colleague Tommy Dowson, another rider, coming back from injury, was aboard Nautical Nitwit who survived a couple of jumping errors in the home straight to land the Grade Two West Yorkshire Hurdle.
The most significant success in the career of the conditional rider who could not use his weight allowance, Nautical Nitwit stuck gamely to his task to hold off Old Guard by a length and a half.
“I would never have believed he’d be winning a Grade Two but he’s so tough,” said Kirby, who believed Nautical Nitwit had blown his chance at the third last – and then again at the final flight.
“He’s not a good jumper at the best of times and he made a blunder at the last but it didn’t stop him. It’s been a great day. This place is close to home for us which means it’s close to the pub!”
Downson then partnered Weymss Point to win the finale on a dream day that the Kirby team will never forget.