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Might Bite ready for his biggest challenge in Cheltenham Gold Cup

Thu 15 Mar 2018

Watch interviews with Nicky Henderson and Patrick Mullins and get the inside track on the Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Friday.

By Racinguk.com staff

Nicky Henderson feels Might Bite is "more professional" this year as he bids to justify favouritism in the Timico Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday.

Click here for Gold Cup stats, trends, history and full race replays down the years

Might Bite grabbed the headlines at the 2017 Festival as he veered across the track after the last fence in the RSA, losing the massive advantage he had built up over stablemate Whisper, only to get going again and win by a nose.

This season has gone to plan, with a win in the King George on his most recent start, and the Seven Barrows handler is pinning his hopes on Might Bite's new-found maturity to add to his previous Gold Cup successes of Long Run and Bobs Worth.

"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," said Henderson.

"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 biggest fear for Henderson is that last year was not the first time Might Bite has wandered up the Cheltenham run-in, having drifted markedly to his right in three of his four appearances there.

"The good thing about Might Bite is you never know what course he will go on - it's up to him," joked Henderson.

"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."

Willie Mullins fields four in his attempt to win the race for the first time. Djakadam has been placed three times previously and Killultagh Vic is another strong contender. Ladbrokes Trophy winner Total Recall and Bachasson complete his team.

Mullins said of Killultagh Vic, who looked likely to go very close in the Irish Gold Cup but for falling at the last: "He beat Thistlecrack in a Grade One hurdle so stamina is not on my mind.

"We were worried, it was a heavy fall but he's 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."

Total Recall won over hurdles at the Dublin Racing Festival.

"Last time he jumped one or two hurdles too well and got a bit free, but he was just going his own pace," said Mullins.

"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."

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