Nicky Henderson ponders plans for Might Bite, Champ and Santini

Tue 19 Nov 2019

Nicky Henderson is considering options for the return to action of Might Bite.

The 2017 King George VI Chase winner, who went on to be second in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, disappointed in three outings last season.

Henderson feels his big asset is his jumping, but whether he starts off at Huntingdon or Aintree has still to be decided.

“The whole demeanour about him at the moment is his jumping,” said Henderson, speaking after working a number of his horses at Newbury on Tuesday morning.

“He used to be the most spectacular horse. He used to bowl along in front and he had them all off the bridle a long way out, just because his jumping took him there.

“Last season he never jumped as well as he did before. That is why we let him jump five fences today and he has been very good. He has got that part of his mojo is back.

“Nico (de Boinville) wants to come back to two and a half miles and we don’t often disagree. However, he thinks the Peterborough would suit him and I think the Many Clouds at Aintree would be the right race for him. That is the time of year he will appear.”

Grade One-winning novice hurdler Champ has made a fine start to life over fences and his plan has been slightly changed.

Henderson said: “He could easily come to Newbury for the two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two (Berkshire) novice chase. I think we are looking at coming here, then to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day for the Dipper.

“JP (McManus), AP (McCoy) and I have discussed it and we are thinking come here then probably leave Kempton (Kauto Star) and go to Cheltenham.”

Santini was not overly impressive when making a winning return at Sandown recent and has had a minor wind operations. While the Cotswold Chase in January remains an aim, his trainer wants a race in between.

“We have tinkered with his wind, but he is back in being ridden again. I need to run in something before the Cotswold Chase. A graduation chase would be nice as he has only won two over fences so far,” said Henderson.

Henderson expects to have four runners in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on November 30.

OK Corral, Beware The Bear, On The Blind Side and Brave Eagle are all on course to run in the showpiece event Henderson last won with Triolo D’Alene in 2013.

Three of the four were in action at Newbury on Tuesday morning, with former champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy taking the reins on ante-post favourite OK Corral, who was pulled up in the National Hunt Chase on his last outing.

Henderson said: “That will have blown away the cobwebs for OK Corral and he seems in good form.

“He was very impressive at Warwick (in January). The way he travelled through Warwick it didn’t look like he needed four miles, but Derek O’Connor come over to ride him in the Warwick race to get him ready for the National Hunt Chase.

“We were tempted to bring him back to the RSA after watching that, but it seemed a bit unfair on Derek to do that so we stuck to the four-miler.

“What went wrong was in the interim period, when the flu outbreak came along and we were forced to revaccinate and it affected four or five horses and him particularly badly. We got him back in time, but he ran no race at all.

“AP said he finished his gallop very strongly. He was only getting going if you like. The other two horses weren’t slow. I thought he had the right profile for the race, although I wasn’t sure to start with.”

Beware The Bear pulled up in the bet365 Gold Cup when last seen, but prior to that won the Ultima at Cheltenham.

“Beware The Bear looks in very good form. He has got the profile for it. He won two very good races at Cheltenham last season and he was fourth in the Ladbrokes Trophy last season,” said Henderson.

“On The Blind Side ran a good race at Ascot (behind Vinndication). He has just got a little bit more to learn. He didn’t need to come here as he has a run under his belt.

“Brave Eagle is not very big, but very game. He runs his races and stays. He worked well there with a two-miler in Pentland Hills.

“The handicapper has forced him into races like this now as he is in the 150s so you haven’t got a lot of options. He would want better ground as he is better on that.”

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