Phil Kirby expressed his delight after stable stars Lady Buttons and Top Ville Ben enjoyed a racecourse gallop at Doncaster on Friday.
The popular Lady Buttons claimed her 15th career victory in a Grade Two event on Town Moor last month and is being prepared for a trip to the Cheltenham Festival, where she holds entries in the Mares’ Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Grand Annual.
Top Ville Ben, meanwhile, will sidestep the showpiece meeting in the Cotswolds, with Kirby keeping his powder dry for Aintree in April.
Speaking after watching the pair take to the track at Doncaster, Kirby said: “They’ve only had a good strong canter, so nothing too exciting, but it was perfect. Both of them finished on the bridle, they were really good and just as we wanted really.
“Top Ville will go to Aintree for either the Grand National or the Bowl. With Buttons, we’re just going to wait and see where everyone else is going. It’s not like we’re pretending we don’t know, we’re genuinely just waiting.
“Ground-wise I don’t mind really, they both go on anything. I suppose heavy ground over two miles will be fine for Buttons, if it dries up a bit that’s fine too. She stays either way, so I don’t mind.”
Top Ville Ben has worn on a hood on each of his jumping starts since switching to Kirby from Nicky Henderson’s yard, but the North Yorkshire-based trainer will consider ditching the headgear on Merseyside.
He added: “He always goes in the hood, but I’m starting to wonder if I could take it off him.
“He used to be a bit of lunatic, so I’ve always kept it on, but he’s not now. He never has it off, but I am at the point where I think he could go without it.”