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Champions Club Chic to sparkle at Cheltenham

All season trainer Dan Skelton has been a man with a plan and that plan reaches its climax on Thursday when Bon Chic lines up for the Coral Champions Club in the Listed EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase Final at Cheltenham.

Bon Chic has been an undoubted star for the Coral Champions Club since she was bought by Skelton in November 2014. In seven starts she has never failed to finish outside the first three and has claimed three victories during that time, twice over hurdles and an effortless 37-length win over fences at Fakenham last month.

Her win last time means she lines up at Cheltenham with a handicap mark of 125 giving her an excellent racing weight of 11st, which is not much different to what Pumped Up Kicks carried to victory in the same race for the Skelton team last season.

Explaining his reasons for building Bon Chic’s season around this race, Skelton says: “The two-and-a-half mile trip is perfect for her and we knew the ground would be decent, which is what she wants. It’s a nice time of year to be running mares as the weather is warmer and she’s got a perfect rating for the race as well.

“This race is a mares only race and it’s worth £40,000, with over £20,000 going to the winner. A lot of other mares’ races that a run are worth about £4.50. It’s a good prize for these horses.”

Bon Chic has looked a natural over fences from her very first run at Ascot when she gave a scare to the classy Thomas Brown, who went on to be Grade 2 placed and run well at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals.

Two more solid runs followed that debut, including a second to classy novice Bristol De Mai at Leicester, before Bon Chic was given a confidence-boosting win over fences at Fakenham on Cheltenham Gold Cup day. She started 1-5 that day and was oh so good in thumping her rivals.

“The season’s gone exactly how I wanted it to,” Skelton says. “She had a nice warm-up run at Fakenham when it was a non-event. She basically had a canter around by herself so she heads into her big aim with her confidence high and that’s just what you want a horse to be like.”

Bon Chic, who will be ridden by Harry Skelton, takes on ten opponents at Cheltenham and she has plenty in her favour according to her trainer.

He says: “It’s a good mares’ race and it was always going to be. But I feel that she’s well handicapped off of her mark, jumps well and everything like the trip and ground is in her favour as well. She’s got to go there with a big, big chance. Simple as that.”