Might Bite will be aiming to secure his second crown on the bounce in the King VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, earning revenge over Native River in the process. The Irish horse was one of the leading competitors in the National Hunt over three miles in the 2017/18 campaign. He was considered the favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup due to his exploits over the course of the season, only to be beaten by his compatriot at the major event in March. Nicky Henderson’s charge now returns to action and will be looking for a similar run towards the Cheltenham Festival, beginning by competing at Kempton Park.
The Irish horse had a strong end to his 2016/17 term, which saw him triumph at Cheltenham in the RSA Chase and the Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree. He carried that form all the way to the King George VI Chase where he delivered on expectations to win by a length ahead of Double Shuffle to claim the title. The race has seen a number of horses win the event in back-to-back seasons. The greatest of them all at Kempton Park was Kauto Star, who won the meet four times in a row between 2006 and 2009 before adding a fifth crown in 2011. Silviniaco Conti was the last horse to win successive meets in the event, triumphing in 2013 and 2014. Since then, Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Might Bite have all been victorious. Henderson’s charge is backed in the horse racing betting odds at 2/1 to pull off the win for the second year on the spin, although he may have to dust off the rust before competing against a quality field.
Might Bite went straight from his victory at the King George VI Chase to Cheltenham Festival, resting for a period of seven weeks between the two events. He appeared to suffer as a result of his lack of action on the track as Nico de Boinville failed to get the best out of his charge. The Irish horse struggled for rhythm at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup. His quality started to emerge towards the end of the race where he took the lead for a short time, although the nine-year-old could not sustain his form, allowing Native River to surge past him down the stretch. Native River had the pace to close out the victory by four-and-a-half-lengths to take the Cup.
Henderson’s charge responded with an emphatic performance at his next race in the Mildmay Novices' Chase. Although the Irish horse made an early mistake on the fourth fence, he was flawless for the rest of the meet, dominating his rivals to clinch the win by seven lengths. If he does not compete between now and the King George VI Chase, it will have been eight months since his last taste of the action. As proven at Cheltenham, too much can sometimes be a hindrance rather than a benefit. It’s certainly something to consider before backing Might Bite at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.