Gold Cup countdown: Nico De Boinville says Might Bite in perfect place

Sun 25 Feb 2018

By staff

Nico de Boinville feels that triple Grade One winner Might Bite is exactly where he needs to be in his build-up towards the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 16.

The Nicky Henderson-trained nine-year-old, the general 3-1 favourite, stepped up his preparation for the staying chase championship when participating in a racecourse gallop alongside reigning Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D'Air and fellow stablemate Theinval after racing at Kempton on Saturday.

De Boinville said: "We were very happy with him and it all went to plan. We went a nice even gallop all the way round and finished hard on the bridle.

"He is exactly where we want him to be right now and I'm sure we will carry on doing bits and pieces here and that but I'm sure that will have got him to where we want him to be.

"It was good to get him away on a raceday and get the adrenalin pumping a bit as close to race conditions as we possibly could.

"At the moment we are not thinking too much about the other horses. It is the Gold Cup - they will all be hard to beat. As long as he gets there in one piece, fit and healthy, we will be happy."

Noel Meade is purring ahead of Road To Respect's intended engagement in the Gold Cup, for which he is a best-priced 10-1.

Road To Respect captured the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at The Festival 12 months ago and has since added two Grade One prizes to his CV, latterly defeating Balko Des Flos and Outlander in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase on December 28.

Meade said: "When Road To Respect won at Christmas, because at that stage we had Disko as well, I dropped it to Michael and Eddie (O'Leary) that he would not go for the Irish Gold Cup.

"Everything has gone very well. He does run well fresh and we think he is better on the spring ground than he is on heavy ground.

"We could not be happier with him at the moment. He looks to have matured very well - even putting on a bit of weight - and he looks super.

"He went away Friday to do a bit of work on the track and that went extremely well. We were thrilled with him.

Road To Respect Ptown 03 Road To Respect looks "super" according to Meade (PA)

"Whether he is good enough, we will see. I think the two hotpots in Might Bite and Jessie's horse (Sizing John), who I'm hearing is flying at home, are two proper Gold Cup horses. Then I think there is not a whole lot between the rest of them and I am hopeful my lad is improving."

Meade added: "He seemed to handle the track very well last year and you would hope he will handle it again. He has tendency to jump left, which got him beat in the north by Gordon's horse (Outlander) but that is no problem at Cheltenham.

"We are daring to dream. I wish the Gold Cup was the first race on the first day! Nobody can paint a horse that would win a Gold Cup, but anyone who looked at this lad would like him. He is everything you want; he has the most beautiful head, shoulders and depth. He is 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.

"We had a horse called Harbour Pilot who was third twice in the Gold Cup. He was a good horse but unfortunately used to kick a fence out every time he went to the races. He never got away from that and did it all his life.

"I think to have a horse good enough to win the Gold Cup, you nearly need to be able to win on the Flat and I think Road To Respect could win on the Flat. If you ran him in a mile and a half maiden, he would win a mile and a half maiden.

"I know Harbour Pilot looked like a stayer but he was the same - he would have won a mile and a half maiden against Flat horses."

Joseph O'Brien has confirmed Edwulf firmly on course for the Gold Cup following his heroic success in the Irish equivalent this month.

Dublin Racing Festival - Day Two - Leopardstown Races Edwulf could be among up to eight runners for O'Brien at Cheltenham (PA)

The JP McManus-owned gelding produced a fairytale comeback to take the Irish Gold Cup at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown, having come close to death when collapsing in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last March.

Speaking at a Festival press event at Naas on Sunday, O'Brien reported his charge in fine form ahead of the blue riband on March 16, for which he is a general 25-1 shot.

O'Brien said: "It's an unbelievable story, for him to come back and do what he's done.

"The Gold Cup is the plan. He's very well since Leopardstown and it is a wide open Gold Cup.

"He's well entitled to take his chance and there's no reason why he can't pick up some prize-money. We'll try and get him there in one piece."

Reflecting on the drama that unfolded at last year's Festival, the trainer added: "Basically it was a neurological episode. The initial thoughts weren't good and we were just hoping he'd survive.

"The vets say it's no more likely to happen to him again as it is for any other horse in any other race. The lads in the yard have done a great job with him."

O'Brien could have between "six and eight" runners at the showpiece meeting.

Tower Bridge, who also struck Grade One gold at the Dublin Racing Festival, is set to contest one of the staying novice hurdles, while Rhinestone is a potential Champion Bumper candidate.

"Tower Bridge is in the Ballymore, but we might supplement him for the Albert Bartlett," said O'Brien.

"It's probably 60-40 we'll go to the Albert Bartlett, but the ground will be the thing. If it looks like it's drying out he'll be better going three miles, whereas if it was getting softer he maybe wouldn't.

"Rhinestone might run in the Champion Bumper. He ran very well at the Dublin Racing Festival.

"We have a few in the handicaps but we'll wait until the weights come out on Wednesday and go from there."

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