Phil Kirby is optimistic Lady Buttons can maintain her fine record at Doncaster when she bids for back-to-back victories in the Napoleons Casino & Restaurant Owlerton Sheffield Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle on Saturday.
The admirable 10-year-old has won on her last four visits to Town Moor, the latest coming in the Silver Vase Mares’ Chase last month.
Lady Buttons gave one of her characteristically gritty performances to nail Happy Diva in a thrilling finish and her trainer feels she is up for another battle.
“She seems in good form and hopefully she can do it again,” said the North Yorkshire handler.
“Sean Quinlan rides her for the first time, but I don’t see that being a problem. He schooled her on Thursday and she schooled great.
“She has to give a bit of weight away and you don’t know how good Nicky Henderson’s horse (Floressa) might be. I think she’s got to step up to get up to Lady Buttons’ level, but she might be able to.
“We’re very happy with our mare and she’s got a favourite’s chance, I think.”
James Bowen takes the mount on Floressa, who has won two of her three starts as a novice.
“It was quick a turn out from her first run to her second run at Newbury where she got beat,” he said.
“She is obviously stepping out of novice company and has a bit to prove, but she couldn’t have done much more than what she already has.
“She looked smart last time and has obviously got a lot of toe. She is 100 per cent streetwise enough to be able to step out of novice company as she shows no inexperience in her races. It is just whether she is good enough to take that step.
“She has showed she has a place to be there.”
Irish Roe will attempt to make it third time lucky in this race after being placed the last two years, while Harry Fry’s pair of Dalila Du Seuil and Literate Ci plus Timetochill make up the six runners.
Bowen is excited at the prospect of riding Mister Fisher for the Henderson team in the Lightning Novices’ Chase.
The six-year-old got off the mark over fences at Cheltenham last month, after finishing second on his debut over the bigger obstacles at Warwick.
“I’m looking forward to it and he shown in his first two starts that he can jump a fence well,” he said.
“It’s a drop back to two miles on Saturday and although ultimately his better trip will be over further, he should be able to cope with it.
“I worked him on Tuesday morning and he went very well. He is genuinely a very good work horse so he did what we expected him to do really.
“When I rode him a few times last season I always thought he would get a lot further than two miles as he has got plenty of stamina, but he shows plenty of pace at home.
“He is pretty smart.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies believes Al Dancer has a lot going for him, having run respectably in this grade on his last two outings.
“I think he goes there with a good chance,” said the Naunton handler.
“He’s in good form and I don’t think the ground will be a problem for him.”
Jamie Snowden is hoping Thomas Macdonagh can rise to the challenge in the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle.
The seven-year-old has won his last three starts in good style, albeit in lesser company, and he now steps up in trip as well as grade.
“He won his novice hurdle then he was given a pretty kind mark of 117, which he won off in a conditional jockeys’ race, so he escaped a penalty then he won quite easily at Ffos Las,” said Snowden.
“He deserves to go up in class and I think the step up to three miles will suit him, as he is by Black Sam Bellamy and stamina is his strong point.
“From the back of this we will be able to see if he is an Albert Bartlett horse. He will be a cracking novice chaser next season.”
He added: “Off 137 he will probably get an entry in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham as well and Page Fuller who rides him on Saturday would be able to ride him in that.
“He would not want the ground to dry up too much, but I can’t see that happening.”
Thomas McDonagh takes on Champagne Well, Ramses De Teillee, Boss Man Fred and Eva’s Oskar in a trappy five-runner affair.