But Hay­dock is a non-starter, says Nicky

Sunday Mirror - - PUZZLES - BY DAVID YATES

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

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