The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the Blue Riband event of the Cheltenham Festival and considered as the most prestigious national hunt race anywhere in the world. Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson has won the 3m2f contest on three occasions and he has an excellent chance of making it a hat-trick of wins in March with Might Bite.
Last season’s RSA Chase winner has had no problems stepping out of novice company this season as he has been successful on both of his starts in the campaign so far. He made his return to action at Sandown in a Listed contest where he looked very sharp in his eight-length victory.
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Might Bite made a real statement about his Gold Cup Chances in the Grade One King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. The 3m contest is the second biggest race of the season in this division in the UK and Henderson’s chaser was able to come out on top in a strong field that included the Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai and the defending champion Thistlecrack.
The success for Might Bite proved he is much more experienced than 12 months ago when he fell at the same meeting at the last fence in the Kauto Star Novices Chase. He has won all five of his starts and goes into Cheltenham as arguably the most impressive three-mile chaser in the UK and Ireland.
Might Bite can be backed at 4/1 in the ante-post betting for the Gold Cup and that is a price that is only going to get shorter as we approach the meeting in Gloucestershire. Thistlecrack has recently been ruled out of the race with a stress fracture so the challenge in the UK does not look particularly strong. You can read more about the eye-catchers over the festive period at Timeform, which also has briefings on race meetings through til June.
Sizing John Leads The Threat From Ireland But There Are Question Marks
The biggest threat to Might Bite’s chances from Ireland is going to be the defending champion Sizing John. Jessica Harrington’s runner had a brilliant campaign last season as not only was he successful at Cheltenham, he also landed the Irish Gold Cup and the Punchestown Gold Cup to complete a superb treble.
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Things haven’t quite gone to plan for the eight-year-old in the 2017/18 campaign as he looked very flat when finishing seventh of 12 runners in the Grade One Christmas Chase at Leopardstown last month. His connections are set to carry out more tests on the horse after that poor showing so it may pan out that the horse wasn’t quite 100% during his last outing.
Coney Island is another horse that may make the trip to Cheltenham in March. The JP McManus-owned runner impressed recently at Ascot in the Sodexo Graduation Chase in what was just his fourth run over fences. The horse looks to have a lot of talent but he is short of experience compared to many of the Gold Cup contenders.
If Might Bite can defeat all the challengers from Ireland, it may tempt connections into taking the horse across for the Punchestown Festival. For now, though, their prime focus is on the Gold Cup, where he is the horse they all have to beat.