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Coral Champions Club horse Chruchtown Champ in with real shout for Kauto Star Novices’ Chase

Coral Champions Club horse gunning for Kauto Star Novices’ Chase glory

Boxing Day will be historic for the Coral Champions Club, as Churchtown Champ becomes its first-ever runner in a Grade 1 when he goes to post in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton (14:05).

Already the highest-rated jumper the Club has ever owned, Churchtown Champ will line up on King George VI Chase day with a real chance of winning a prestigious race.

Colin Tizzard, who trains Battle Of Ideas for the Club, sends leading novice Thistlecrack in the King George VI Chase leaves the door open for others to strike in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (formerly the Feltham Novices’ Chase).

Skelton: “Churchtown Champ is very much on course”

Churchtown Champ’s trainer Dan Skelton certainly sees it that way and his sense of excitement ahead of the race is tangible.

“We’ve been looking to come here for a while now with Churchtown Champ and I’ve been really happy with him in the run up to the race,” Coral horse racing ambassador Skelton exclusively told the Champions Club.

“With Thistlecrack not going it’s a very different type of race now, but I’m happy with our horse and that’s what’s most important.

Coral Champions Club horse Churchtown Champ has as good a chance as any in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Coral Champions Club horse Churchtown Champ has as good a chance as any in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

“I’ve also entered Virgilio at Kempton because Thistlecrack’s not going and it opens up the race.

“I’m going to see what the next few days bring for him before I decide if he goes there as well, but Churchtown Champ is very much on course and I’m looking forward to it.”

Churchtown Champ has solid Southwell form behind him

Churchtown Champ booked his place in the £70k Kauto Star Novices’ Chase by slamming his rivals at Southwell last month on just his second start over fences.

Two horses Churchtown Champ bested at Southwell in striking fashion have come out and won since, so the form looks solid for him to back that up.

The odd error apart, Churchtown Champ jumped flawlessly around Southwell and Skelton believes it is best to be positive with his six-year-old on Boxing Day.

Positive jumping important

Trainer Dan Skelton welcomes the open nature of the Kauto Star Novices' Chase with Thistlecrack missing the race for a crack at the King George.

Trainer Dan Skelton welcomes the open nature of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase with Thistlecrack missing the race for a crack at the King George.

“We’ve just got to be positive with his jumping,” Skelton continued. “That’s something we need to do and it will help his chances. He’s won going right-handed and the ground should be nice for him.

“I wouldn’t think they’d be too many excuses for any of the horses in there on good to soft ground. It’s good, solid form from Southwell and I’m happy with that as well.”

The likes of Long Run, Dynaste and Coneygree have all won this race in recent seasons, so it will be tough for Churchtown Champ to come home in front in the 3m Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.

“Thistlecrack not being there gives everyone a realistic chance”

However, with no Thistlecrack opposing, Skelton feels Churchtown Champ has as good a chance as any of scooping the prize, while also providing the Coral Champions Club with a memorable experience.

“Thistlecrack not being there gives everyone a realistic chance to win,” Shelton added. “If Thistlecrack was running, then nothing else would be able to win in reality. Him not being there means it’s now a competitive race and we’re in with a chance.

“I’m really looking forward to running him in the race and it’s great for the Coral Champions Club to have a runner in the race that has a legitimate chance of winning.”

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