Jensen Button secures final seat at McLaren

Jenson Button staying with McLaren

Jenson Button staying with McLaren

Former F1 world champion Jensen Button will continue in the sport next season after all, after he won the race for the final seat at McLaren for next season.

Button admitted he feared his days in F1 were over as McLaren dithered over who would partner Fernando Alonso next season, but he has finally been picked to race next season.

Group chief executive Ron Dennis has taken a surprising amount of time over deciding whether to retain Button or Magnussen.

Dennis has been criticised for his dithering, in particular after stating at the Italian Grand Prix in September a decision would be made before the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi in November.

Mika Hakkinen, a double world champion with McLaren, told Swiss newspaper Blick that "what is happening at McLaren is unworthy of such a team".

British Racing Drivers' Club president Derek Warwick told the BBC McLaren's treatment of Button has been "disgusting".

Dennis held a board meeting last Thursday with two other primary shareholders in TAG co-owner Mansour Ojjeh and Mahmood Hashim Al Kooheji, CEO of Mumtalakat, Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund.

It has since taken Dennis the last few days to finally arrive at a conclusion, ending the agonising wait for Button and Magnussen.

Only last week Button said: "I just want to get it done. I want to hear the decision as we all do so we can all move on in whatever direction."

At stake is Button's 15-season F1 career, although it is understood he has irons in the fire should Dennis opt for the 22-year-old Dane Magnussen.

The 34-year-old Briton is lined up for a seat in the World Endurance Championship, with Toyota understood to be leading the pursuers.

Button said: "I'm now really comfortable, and whatever happens I will have a great year next year.

"New challenges are exciting, whether it's in Formula One with McLaren alongside an exciting team-mate, or whether it's elsewhere."

Harrington returns to winning ways

Padraig Harrington has ended a four-year spell without victory in a full-field competition

Padraig Harrington has ended a four-year spell without victory in a full-field competition

Padraig Harrington held off a late challenge from Thailand’s Thanyakon Khrongpha to win the Asian Tour’s Indonesia Open by two shots on Sunday.

Ireland's triple major winner came through a stuttering start to the final round and then a thrilling 18th hole to card a winning total of 16-under-par 268.

The victory is Harrington's first at a full field tournament since he lifted the Johor Open title in 2010.

It was far from plain sailing for the world number 385, who had entered the final day with a four-shot lead before a poor start allowed Thanyakon to go two shots clear after nine holes.

A two-hour rain break seemed to stall the Thai's momentum, however, and Harrington fought back to restore parity with his rival heading to the 18th.

The Irishman skewed his tee shot to the edge of a hazard but Khrongpha failed to capitalise, finding the water with his second and registering a double-bogey six.

Harrington recovered his composure, sinking a 15-foot putt to make par and secure a dramatic victory.

Jezki seeking Ryanair revenge

Jessica Harrington

Jessica Harrington

During a visit to Jessica Harrington’s yard earlier yesterday, Leopardstown Racecourse announced the impressive entries for the seven Grade 1 races at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Lord Windermere and Bobs Worth may well clash in the Lexus Chase, while the Ryanair Hurdle could bring together the remarkable Hurricane Fly and reigning champion hurdler Jezki who brought the house down when finishing first and second in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month.

Exciting novices Nichols Canyon, Shaneshill and Free Expression head the entries for the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle while the mighty Vautour, Valseur Lido, The Tullow Tank and Shanahan’s Turn top the list in the Topaz Novice Chase.

There are strong entries from the UK once again and Uxizandre and Simply Ned, trained by Alan King and Nicky Richards respectively, look leading contenders for the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase while Jonjo O’Neill’s More Of That would be of interest if he travelling over for the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle.

Grade 1 winning half-brothers Jezki and Jetson were among Jessica Harrington’s Leopardstown Christmas Festival contenders on view at her yard in Moone, County Kildare yesterday.

In all, 21 horses were turned out with the Ryanair Hurdle and Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle hopes leading the way.

Jessica Harrington feels Jezki will be spot on by the time of the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 29.

The champion hurdler was beaten by Hurricane Fly on his comeback in the Morgiana Hurdle, but Harrington felt she could have had her stable star fitter.

That defeat tipped the balance in the favour of Willie Mullins' veteran in the overall tally of meetings, but Harrington hopes Jezki can level the score once more.

Both appear among 13 entries for the Grade One.

"It's three-two to Hurricane Fly and hopefully at Christmas he can make it three-all," she said.

"He's in great order. He's had an easy time since the Morgiana and we'll build him up now for Christmas and the Ryanair Hurdle.

"You are always disappointed when they get beaten and I walked down off the stand thinking I could have done things a bit different.

"He was probably just short one piece of work but he's really bouncing now.

"The main thing is that he came back from that run in one piece. We'll probably take him to the Curragh a couple of times, hopefully we can work him on grass as he's got very cute and goes through the motions on the all-weather gallop."

Hurricane Fly will be going for his fourth win in the last five years in the race while current champion hurdle favourite Faugheen is also a possible for Mullins, along with Arctic Fire and Diakali. Annie Power has been entered but is currently on the sidelines. Tiger Roll and Purple Bay are other interesting possibles.

Nichols Canyon, Lieutenant Colonel and Valseur Lido could all bid to add to their Fairyhouse Grade 1 successes at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival which boasts a total prize fund of over €1m.

Pat Keogh, CEO at Leopardstown Racecourse, said, “We are delighted with the quality of entries. In addition to all the best Irish horses, it is great to see so many entries from the top English trainers. It is shaping up to be a very special Festival.”