15:30 Cheltenham Fri 16 March 2018
Delicate sort only seen twice this season. Pulled up at Newbury but produced a better effort when runner-up behind Definitly Red here last time. Won't mind conditions but will struggle to reverse that form.
Won a valuable handicap at Leopardstown two starts back but took a heavy fall at that same course last time out in the Irish Gold Cup and his better performances have come on better ground. This represents a big step up in class and he's opposable.
Smart over hurdles and has made in to a better chaser. Followed a Gowran Park success with two Listed wins at Thurles then Tramore. While he won both of those easily enough, this is a big step up in class and he's down the order on jockey booking.
Fancied for last year's Grand National when badly hampered but has gone on improving this year and followed up a Grade 2 success at Aintree with another here last time out. Relishes these conditions and should run well.
Placed in this race twice and finished a fair fourth last year. Not himself when pulled up at Leopardstown at Christmas but much better last time at that course and ought to run well again with plenty of course experience on his side. Place chance.
Suffered injury when likely to have finished runner-up to Wednesday's Cross Country winner (Tiger Roll) at last year's Festival. Improved for comeback run to land the Irish Gold Cup last time and had some of these behind but more on his plate here.
Looked a tired horse when falling last time out but he is a classy type and he's the first-string on jockey bookings. Possibly at his best on fast ground thwarts enthusiasm and there's nagging doubt over his stamina so passed over this time.
Won last year's RSA but nearly handed the race to a stablemate, hanging towards the stands on the run in. Won all three starts since, including King George at Kempton and has looked more straightforward in the process; high on any shortlist.
Third in this last year but has had an interrupted preparation this season. Encouraging comeback run at Newbury last time but second run off a significant absence is a concern with the bounce factor. Not one to let loose on the front end if at 100%.
2017 Irish Grand National winner who stayed on gamely to beat Wednesday's impressive RSA winner at Gowran last time. More at home over this trip and would have run better in Irish Gold Cup if he hadn't have made a bad mistake. Big chance on form.
Runner-up behind Edwolf in the Irish Gold Cup last time out. The Grade 1 form that saw him beat Road To Respect earlier in the season would see him in with a chance but best runs have come away from here and he's probably worth opposing.
Classy sort who's still improving but conditions have gone against him here and he was beaten by Outlander in soft ground at Down Royal two starts back. He jumps well and ran better last time but place may be best he can hope for on this ground.
Ran a mighty race in this last year when fifth of 13, jumping faultlessly but same can't be said on two subsequent runs and even on his best form, he probably needs a sizable chunk of improvement to figure in a strong renewal.
Has failed to finish in three starts at this course including in this race last year. Tailed off here at the Trials meeting and this is plenty tougher.
Progressive sort and has won all three starts for this yard. Interesting that connections run him here but stable jockey Walsh had picked Killultagh Vic before his injury and the Grand National may be the main target for him.
Last Year's Winner
|T: Mrs J HarringtonJ: R M Power|
Might Bite (4/1), Our Duke (9/2), Native River (5/1), Definitly Red (8/1), Killultagh Vic (8/1), Road To Respect (9/1), Total Recall (14/1), Edwulf (20/1), Outlander (20/1), Minella Rocco (20/1), Djakadam (25/1), American (25/1), Anibale Fly (33/1), Bachasson (33/1), Double Shuffle (33/1), Tea For Two (50/1), Saphir Du Rheu (66/1), Shantou Flyer (100/1)
- Definitly Red
- Might Bite
- Our Duke
Nicky Henderson - Might Bite
"I'm not going to tell you he's a better horse on the racecourse, but he is definitely a better work horse at home.
"He's been round Cheltenham in the RSA Chase last year. The fact that he was able to essentially come to a complete standstill in the RSA and then get going again means he must stay pretty well, as that is an extraordinary thing to do.
"He idled in the King George, but he definitely stayed and he did go very quick that day. He is a more mature horse and he possibly looks more professional, but his work is certainly better. It is just of a higher standard.
"He has been three miles round Cheltenham and he has got up the hill. I see no reason why he won't get it. It's not much further and he is another year stronger.
"The good thing about Might Bite is you never know what course he will go on - it's up to him. He hasn't run since Kempton but that has been on purpose as he needs to be fresh, he's just that sort of horse.
"You've got to be careful with him, like a few by his sire Scorpion, and I think that is how he likes it. He used to kill his races a long way out, but some were disappointed at Kempton. I think that is because the pace he had to go early to take on Bristol De Mai might have taken its toll. We've no idea if he stays the Gold Cup trip, but I had no intention of running him in the Cotswold Chase to find out on heavy ground. I'd rather find out now.
"If he could do what he did last year, come to a complete standstill and win, I can't think an extra furlong and a half is a worry."
Colin Tizzard - Native River
"We wondered last season if by going for the Hennessy, then going on to the Welsh National and then the Denman Chase that maybe we had taken the edge off him so he wasn't approaching the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the best of form. He ran well to finish third.
"We had Native River ready for Newbury - he had been to Larkhill three times as we didn't want him to get tired, or injured and we wanted him to do himself justice so he was ready for that. He is bound to improve for that run, every horse does."
Jessica Harrington - Our Duke
"He seems to be in great form. We haven't had to do too much with him because the Red Mills Chase wasn't that long ago. He needed that race as he'd made a bad mistake in the Irish Gold Cup and ended up finishing only fourth. The owners said last season we'd miss Cheltenham and go for the Gold Cup this year. It was their decision."
Willie Mullins - Killultagh Vic, Total Recall
"We were worried, it was a heavy fall but he's (Kilultagh Vic) schooled well since. When I saw the reverse angle, it looked like he was trying to be too careful and just unbalanced. I'm hopeful that he'll have learned and will be all right on the day."
"Last time he (Total Recall) jumped one or two hurdles too well and got a bit free, but he was just going his own pace. We decided on Cheltenham because the Bobbyjo was coming too soon after the hurdle race, which wouldn't have been the normal route to take for a National horse. After that the Gold Cup was the only other option."
Noel Meade - Road To Respect
"Nobody could paint a horse that could win a Gold Cup, but anybody who looks at this lad would like him. He is everything you want. He has the most beautiful head, shoulders and depth and strength everywhere. He's the most beautiful horse you could wish to see, so if ever you could paint a Gold Cup winner, you would say this could be one."
Joseph O'Brien - Edwulf
"After what happened in Cheltenham, JP (McManus, owner) and Frank (Berry, racing manager) said we could take our time with him and if he never ran again, that was fine and if he did, then great.
"He was absolutely flying going into the Irish Gold Cup. He was 100-1 the day before and went off 33s. We've been happy with him since and hopefully he goes there with a good each-way chance."
Paul Nicholls - Saphir Du Rheu
"He has improved massively from his first run at Newbury. I couldn't do any more than I did with him before that, but he has got it all to do.
Brian Ellison - Definitly Red
"He's in rude health and I'm really happy with him. Danny (Cook) always felt he was going to win the Cotswold Chase. If Danny can get him into a good rhythm, he'll run his race. Obviously it's going to be competitive. To have a horse like him going for the Gold Cup is every trainer's dream."
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