PHIL kirby is looking forward to his well-regarded steeplechaser Top Ville Ben make his seasonal reappearance in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby this Saturday.
A faller at the Cheltenham Festival, Sean Quinlan’s mount then finished an eye-catching third in a Grade One chase at Aintree’s Grand National festival and will relish soft ground at Wetherby.
Owned by the Harbour Rose Partnership, Top Ville Ben enjoyed two wide-margin wins at the West Yorkshire track last season and the horse caught the trainer’s eye during a schooling session on Middleham’s gallops this week.
“The bet365 Charlie Hall Chase remains the plan for Top Ville Ben. It looks a competitive race, but we will see how he gets on,” said Catterick-based Kirby. “He deserves to take his chance in the race and it is all systems go for Wetherby. He loves the track and soft ground will suit.”
Kirby has also handed the staying steeplechaser an entry in the Ladbrokes Trophy – formerly the Hennessy – at Newbury on November 30. Sue Smith’s Vintage Clouds is the other Yorkshire representative in the prestigious handicap chase.
Kirby, meanwhile, is looking forward to the return of Lady Buttons in the Listed bet365 Mares’ Hurdle – one of three feature contests which has persuaded ITV Racing to broadcast live from the track.
Owned and bred by Keith and Jayne Sivills, Lady Buttons won last year’s renewal in style under Adam Nicol.
“She is a star and without her we wouldn’t be where we are today,” added the trainer.
“We are looking forward to returning to Wetherby. She did not mind mixing hurdles and fences last season and she could do the same this time around. She is in lovely shape and seems as happy as ever.”
n Aidan O’Brien’s Mogul heads a field of 12 contenders for the rescheduled Vertem Futurity Trophy at Newcastle tomorrow.
The Group One heat was originally due to take place at Doncaster last Saturday – but a waterlogged track put paid to that meeting and the rescheduled race will now become the first top-level prize to be contested on an all-weather surface in Britain. The Andrew Balding-trained Kameko and Ralph Beckett’s Kinross – both rising stars – will provide stern opposition.