Champions Club Bon Chic Wins in Style
The Coral Champions Club celebrated its third birthday earlier this year but it received the ultimate gift on Tuesday afternoon when Bon Chic, a horse who represented a first foray into racehorse ownership, became its maiden National Hunt winner when winning impressively at Southwell. In a sport that thrives on hopes and dreams, we all entered a surreal state afterwards and arrived in a place that we’d all like to revisit more regularly.
When Dan Skelton phoned on the day of the Doncaster Sales back in early November to say ‘we have stolen one’, with it came excitement and expectation. Bon Chic was the mare Skelton could not let go. She had passed through the sales ring without reaching her reserve, but our club trainer could not watch the mare walk out of his life and he was quick to acquire the five-year-old daughter of Presenting. Skelton is no nobody’s fool, having spent nine years as an assistant trainer to champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls, so such an opening statement, as bold as it was, was easily digested. Bon Chic had just won a bumper at Punchestown and the dream of further glory seemed imminent. The reports from Lodge Hill were extremely positive and when the mare rolled up at Fakenham in December priced up at odds of 4/7, hopes were high that our first ever National Hunt runner would duly oblige.
But jump racing has a habit of playing with your emotions and there was to be no early Christmas present. Looking back now, a win that day would have been just too easy. The disappointment though was shared. When Dan texted with his debrief, one could tell he was troubled by the performance. However, his optimism remained intact, he never lost faith in her ability. He ended by saying ‘needs good ground, will win next time’. Patience though would be the key. Legendary Australian trainer Bart Cummings summed it up best when he once said: ‘Patience is the cheapest thing in racing but most people don’t use it’. We adhered to those words and waited. Three months on, Mystic Meg has every right to start looking over her shoulder, because Bon Chic’s next run duly resulted in victory.
Tuesday’s win was special. It may not have been obtained at a festival meeting or in a grade one event but there’s nothing better than a winner and what has made this victory different to the others the club has enjoyed since its inception is that we own this exciting prospect. We don’t have to worry about returning her at the end of the season.
The Southwell race looked a competitive affair on paper with the Nicky Henderson trained Taylor a well-supported favourite. Mighty Minnie, a full sister to the teak-tough Mighty Man was heavily punted before the off. Bon Chic, on the contrary, had drifted on track but nobody told the mare that she was friendless in the ring. Having travelled sweetly throughout the race, although not having jumped with the same fluency she has been showing at home, Bon Chic cruised up behind the front two in the market approaching the second last. Daryl Jacob made his for move for home on Taylor, getting the better of Mighty Minnie, but as he looked in his wing mirror, he could see Harry Skelton pulling double on Bon Chic. Both horses jumped the last in unison, but there was always only going to be one outcome as Bon Chic sprinted away in fine style to record an impressive win.
Dan was suitably impressed by her performance. “Bon Chic is different class on this ground. It rained the night before she ran at Fakenham on her first run for me and everything went wrong for her. We’ll keep her on the go throughout the summer as she loves this ground.”
UPDATE: We’re delighted to report that Bon Chic pulled out 100% sound this morning (Wednesday). In truth she is probably in better shape than a few of us! Dan will give it a week to see how she is before deciding on her next assignment but is keen to take advantage of the better ground and given she had a light winter in training, he sees no reason to not run over the summer as there is now some decent prize money on offer.
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