5) Might Bite – Cheltenham (15 March 2017)
The chill mornings and creak of dormant central heating systems announce the dawn of another jumps season ripe with expectation. With Chepstow a few days and Cheltenham a few weeks away, now seems an appropriate time to review last season with an optimistic eye to future profits, and there can be few more memorable moments from the 2016/17 campaign than the RSA Chase on the Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival.
Our most recent entrant into the HoTSHaW list is possibly the most talented individual so far, and certainly the quirkiest. The eternal charm of horse racing is that in a year’s time we may be lauding Might Bite as fulfilling his enormous potential on the grandest of stages, or consigning him to the list of ‘unbackable rogues’.
The 7/2 favourite had the race at his mercy as he fluffed his way over the final fence, at least ten lengths clear of his nearest pursuer. It was then that he became distracted by a patch of grass, of which racecourses tend to have many. Horses like grass, and this would have been no problem if his interest was in a patch of grass beyond the finishing line, but Might Bite seemed fascinated by a patch of grass about 30 yards right of the racing line.
His stablemate Whisper kept a straight line and assumed the lead. It looked like the race was lost. However, with just half a furlong left Might Bite remembered he was a racehorse and realised there were lots of patches of grass everywhere that he could examine. Resuming a straight line he rallied up the Cheltenham hill and won by a nose.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has stated that this season he has the Triple Crown (Betfair Chase from Haydock, King George at Kempton, and of course Gold Cup at Cheltenham) in mind for Might Bite, and with a horse of such prodigious flair it is easy to see why. That he can still be backed today at 50/1 with Bet365 shows the extent of his mental frailties, as well as the difficulty in attaining that level of superiority over three separate tests over varying lengths throughout the season.
The late, great Kauto Star was the only one to achieve it back in 2006/7, though many have tried and dear old Cue card got mightily close in 2016 before falling in the Gold Cup. After the impressive win of Sizing John in that race he is also arguably value for the Triple Crown at 33/1, now that connections have found his forte of staying chases. He has the ‘been-there-done-it’ box ticked, but whether he has the innate speed and scope of Might Bite is another matter.
Regular readers of this blog will know that the author has no supernatural powers of prediction, only a penchant for long-price speculations, but 50/1 on Might Bite for the Triple Crown will keep it interesting. Until Haydock in November, at least. It may seem like the fast way to the poor house, backing dodgy jumpers in not one but three supreme trials of jumping, but I thought he was getting better last season and as an eight year old can reasonably be expected to improve again with only seven chases under his belt.