Lady Buttons is all set to take on the mighty Buveur D’Air in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle this afternoon – providing the meeting survives an early-morning inspection.
Richmond handler Phil Kirby pitches his high-class mare into Grade One company after she notched a 13th career win in a Listed event at Wetherby.
The nine-year-old retains the option of running over fences at Newbury in the event Newcastle is abandoned.
“It’s not often you have a horse who is third favourite for a Grade One – or we don’t anyway. There’s five runners and we decided we’d give it a go,” said Kirby.
“She’s had a run, she’s fit and well and she’s in good form at home.
“If she could be placed in a Grade One it would be brilliant for her.’’
Buveur D’Air bids to stretch his top-level tally to nine with a third Fighting Fifth victory.
Nicky Henderson’s dual Champion Hurdle hero has made a successful start to his season in the Gosforth Park contest in each of the past two seasons – and will be a warm order to complete the hat-trick.
Should the JP McManus-owned eight-year-old prevail as expected, he will become only the third three-time winner of the Fighting Fifth after Comedy Of Errors (1972, 1973 and 1974) and Birds Nest (1976, 1977 and 1979).
Henderson said: “I’ve done a lot of work with him and we have had a good preparation, so all has gone well really.
“He looks big, but he has done everything right going into the race.”