Lady Buttons to revert to fences for Aintree tilt

Lady Buttons will revert to fences at Aintree next month after claiming a fine fourth in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Change of tack: Lady Buttons will race over fences at Aintree next month. (Picture: Paul Harding/Getty)

Connections of the nine-year-old had faced a difficult choice in the run up to the Festival, with dual-purpose performer Lady Buttons holding entries both in Tuesday’s mares’ race and the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday.

They eventually opted to try their luck over the smaller obstacles, but Catterick-based trainer Phil Kirby will now switch back to fences at the Grand National meeting.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He said: “She ran well enough, but obviously in hindsight now, we would probably have gone for the other race knowing what we know.

“There’s no regrets. We said we’d give her a chance and perhaps it didn’t quite work out, but she’s back in one piece and that’s the main thing.

“She will probably go to Aintree now – it was always the plan to go back over fences with her.”

Sceau Royal has options at Aintree and Sandown after giving Altior a run for his money in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Alan King’s charge led at the final fence, only to be run out of it in the closing stages, finishing third.

Anthony Bromley, racing manager for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, said: “He could go over two-and-a-half (miles) at Aintree or we may just wait and go for the Celebration Chase at Sandown, where we could have to take on Altior again.

“He is not the sort of horse that will do both.

“He will do one or the other and we will have to make a decision what we are going to do, but I will talk to Alan King first.”

Paul Nicholls has not ruled out giving Clan Des Obeaux the chance to add another Grade One victory to his name this season in the Betway Bowl at Aintree.

The 10-times champion trainer feels the extended three-mile-one-furlong contest on April 4 could offer this year’s King George VI Chase hero the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways.

After backing up his Boxing Day success at Kempton in the rearranged Denman Chase at Ascot, the seven-year-old, having travelled well, had to settle for a creditable fifth place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

Nicholls said: “Clan Des Obeaux has come back fine. He just got outstayed from the back of the last.

“He could have done without that rain on the morning of the race as three and a quarter miles on that ground takes some 
getting, but he still ran a super race.

“We will let the dust settle, the Bowl at Aintree is a possibility as three-miles-one around Aintree on a flat track would suit him well, but I’ve just got to speak to the owners.”

Nicholls is contemplating drawing stumps for the season for his other top-level Festival winner, Ryanair Chase hero Frodon.

He said: “I will talk to Paul (Vogt) owner, but he has had five hard races this season and he might have just done enough.

“It was one of the most amazing reactions I’ve seen at the Festival when Frodon and Bryony (Frost) came back in. The improvement in that horse has been astonishing.

“It is one that will live long in the memory and it was great seeing them on the front pages of national papers. There are a lot of positives about, so let’s talk about them.”

Owner Philip Reynolds has confirmed Presenting Percy is likely to miss the rest of the season after returning lame following the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Pat Kelly-trained eight-year-old had an unorthodox preparation for the blue riband, having not run over fences since sealing his second Festival success with a dominant display in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase last March.

Despite the doubts, the popular gelding was still sent off favourite for the Festival feature, but never threatened to land a telling blow and eventually finished a well-beaten eighth.

Reynolds said: “It certainly wasn’t his day.

“I’m not making any excuses for him, but he was found to be lame afterwards.

“It’s a bit early, so we’ll have him assessed this week and 
see. Fingers crossed it’s not too bad.

“Where that happened and how it happened, I’m not sure, but certainly he wasn’t the Presenting Percy that I know.”