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Coral Champions Club dreaming of festival trip with Churchtown

Dan Skelton: enjoyed victory in the feature chase with Churchtown Champ
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Coral Champions Club continued their impeccable run at the Nottinghamshire track when Churchtown Champ cruised to victory in the feature £11,000 novices’ limited handicap chase – and connections are dreaming of a trip to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The owners' group, who have four horses trained by Dan Skelton, Harry Fry and Colin Tizzard, have enjoyed four winners from four runners at Southwell and offer the firm’s customers an opportunity to visit the races as the horse’s connections through competitions.

Although the Club’s visits to Southwell have proved particularly fruitful, the National Hunt Chase at the home of jumps racing is a potential target for the talented six-year-old, who defeated Pearl Swan by ten lengths.

Results and analysis

Paul Fayerty, spokesman for Coral Champions Club, said: "Churchtown Champ was very good today – the word before the race was for Ben Pauling's Ballyhenry but we've put him in his place.

"You have to dream in this game and the four-miler at Cheltenham is in our thoughts – he certainly wouldn't finish last in it on the back of that performance.

"We could always bring him back later in the spring as an alternative if we decide against going for it. We knew he'd come on for his good run at Worcester, and the form had been franked. We’re delighted with him."

'It stops him getting fat!'

The majority of horses at this time of year are returning from their summer break, but the Michael Potter-owned Inishrush visited a racecourse for the first time in 1213 days at the age of 15 in the opening 3m handicap chase, won by Fly Home Harry, following three years on the Moors in Somerset.

The three-time winner under Rules, trained by Bill Turner, raced prominently before dramatically unseating Andrew Thornton at the tenth fence, although returned none the worse and will be back for more – most likely at the age of 16.

"He hadn’t seen a saddle for three years until the end of July when we brought him in to ride out with another of ours that won’t go out on his own," said Potter.

"He’s been so well in himself and doesn’t take long to get fit so we thought we’d give him another go – he has always loved his racing and it stops him getting fat!

"He’s very healthy and enjoyed a good spin today – he still feels like an eight-year-old when I ride him at home. We wouldn’t risk him if we thought it would do him any harm.

"He has an unbelievable constitution, an iron horse really. He wouldn’t like the ground any softer than this so we may have to wait until next year with him – all being well he’ll be back at the age of 16."

Thought for the day

The jumps season is really starting to get going now and there were several nice performances during the afternoon. Churchtown Champ was by far and away the most impressive winner of the day, while Nobuttaboy ran a gallant race in defeat in the 3m novice hurdle and is also worth following.

You have to dream in this game and the four-miler at Cheltenham is in our thoughts - he certainly wouldn't finish last in it on the back of that performance
E.W. Terms