HENDO’S GOT REAL MIGHT
But Haydock is a non-starter, says Nicky
THE £17,085 winner’s purse for Sandown Park’s 188Bet Future Stars Intermediate Chase today is a tidy sum. But it’s not a million. That’s the sum on offer for the horse that wins next Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock Park and then follows up in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
A trip to Merseyside would mean taking on Gold Cup hero Sizing John, and last Saturday’s Charlie Hall Chase victor, Bristol De Mai, however – and box office steeplechaser Might Bite’s trainer Nicky Henderson (above) is insistent.
“Bonuses are commendable things – but the right race is Sandown,” reasons the master of Seven Barrows, unable to contain his excitement about Might Bite’s “frighteningly good” schooling session in Lambourn on Thursday morning.
“You know my reasoning for not going to Haydock? He’s not going for a dust-up with a whole heap of horses.
“He has got his little foibles in life and to get him ready for Haydock you’ve got to wind him up.
“You have to treat him with kid gloves, but he’s plenty fit for Sunday.”
Nobody can blame Henderson circumspection.
Might Bite was out on his own when crashing out at the final fence of the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton last Boxing Day, and lurched across the track like a drunk before straightening out to hold stablemate for Whisper by a nose in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March.
At least his victory over the same horse at Aintree the following month was less dramatic.
“At Cheltenham, he showed he’s a horse who has his idiosyncrasies,” said Henderson. “There was a disagreement between horse and jockey at Kempton – which was a little bit unfortunate – but at Aintree he did nothing wrong at all.”
He fears an attempt to curb Might Bite’s frontrunning enthusiasm would be to blunt his awesome talent.
“The reason you let him do that is that he’s going a gallop that nobody else can go at,” he added.
“At Kempton, he was six seconds faster at the last fence than Thistlecrack.
“It was the same at Cheltenham – he’s got the race dead at twoand-a-half miles, so why would you restrain him?”
The eight-year-old is the 3-1 favourite for the King George, whose three-mile distance favours a staying chase with speed, while the 10-1 on offer for the Gold Cup nearly three months later takes account of an extra two and a half furlongs – and Cheltenham’s climb to the finish.
“A different ball game,” agrees Henderson. “That’s why the only target at the moment is Kempton.”
HIGH AND MIGHTY Might Bite and Nico De Boinville closing in on their victory at Aintree in April