Might Bite among 2018 Cheltenham Festival horses to follow
Hurdle Bet experts look at Might Bite in the latest of their series on 2018 Cheltenham Festival horses to follow and the Gold Cup looks to be in his future.
There’s an old adage about a fine line between madness and genius; if we can apply that to horses, then Might Bite treads it.
Hailing from the stable of champion trainer Nicky Henderson, the eight-year-old won the RSA Chase despite himself last season.
Idling after a mistake at the last, Might Bite’s alarming veer to the right towards the standside rail almost cost him the race.
The RSA Chase was his to lose after leading over almost all of the 3m and he so very nearly did.
Might Bite then rallied to make a remarkable recovery and head stablemate Whisper in the shadow of the post to win by a nose.
Cheltenham has been home to some gripping drama in horse racing over the years, but this stands out among the most memorable moments.
Talent and tumult in equal measure
Any honest assessment of Might Bite must not only point to unquestionable talent, but concede he has not been the most straightforward for Seven Barrows handler Henderson to train.
Seven wins and two placings from 12 career starts does not tell the whole story.
After finishing a 3 1/2 lengths third of six to West Approach in a Newbury bumper on debut in January 2015, Might Bite landed two novice hurdles over intermediate trips.
Connections then sent Might Bite chasing, but he was a well-beaten 13 1/4 lengths fifth of seven to More Of That on his second Cheltenham run and duly returned to hurdles.
That Henderson was prepared to switch him to fences after just two outings over the smaller obstacles highlights the high regard his handler must hold him in.
Might Bite then landed the Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle at Kempton by eight lengths and subsequently posted a solid seventh of 16 at Cheltenham after being put up 10lb by the handicapper.
Henderson tried again to get things right with Might Bite over fences last season and, although beaten on his reappearance run at Ffos Las when landing awkwardly at the last and unable to recover, he came good at the third time of asking to land a Doncaster novice chase.
Finally came good over fences
He made all for a 14-length romp over Premier Bond that set up a tilt at the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
Stepping up in trip to 3m definitely suited, as Might Bite was 10 lengths up and cruising when coming to grief at the last.
Despite the tumble with that Grade 1 prize at his mercy, the bookies were quick to install him as ante post favourite for the RSA.
Might Bite proved none the worse for falling at Kempton when bouncing back by absolutely bolting up in a prep run again around Doncaster.
The form of his subsequent Cheltenham Festival victory stacked up when he again beat Whisper in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
Unlike his maiden Grade 1 triumph, there were absolutely no dramas with Might Bite on Merseyside, as he made all and did enough for victory when scoring by two lengths.
A clear round coming incident free demonstrated why Henderson has persisted with this horse.
Is Gold Cup glory in his future?
Front-running tactics over 3m plus is a huge ask for any horse, but it seems to come naturally to Might Bite.
Now no longer a novice, the top prize in open company is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which handler Henderson has won twice before with Long Run (2011) and Bobs Worth (2013).
Traditional Gold Cup trials include the Betfair Chase at Haydock, for which Paddy Power go 4/1 about Might Bite winning.
The other obvious test is the King George VI Chase at Kempton – a track that holds mixed memories for this horse.
And as for the big one, he is a best-price 10/1 with Betway, who pay a quarter of the odds for three places.
If Might Bite can hang in open company, then he is a clear contender for Gold Cup glory.
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