Tag Archive for: Might Bite

Nicky Henderson announces retirement of Might Bite

Nicky Henderson has announced the retirement of 2017 King George VI Chase hero Might Bite.

While that performance at Kempton was no doubt his career highlight, he will also be remembered for the dramatic way in which he won the RSA Chase a season earlier when holding off stablemate Whisper by a nose.

Over 10 lengths clear jumping the last, Might Bite veered badly to his right up the run-in, giving Whisper a chance, only to pick up again in the final strides to cling on for victory.

He went on to be second in the 2018 Gold Cup to Native River, yet despite winning at Aintree that year he failed to reproduce that form in subsequent seasons.

“It is a sad day at Seven Barrows as we have decided to call time on the career of Might Bite who has been retired after we came to the conclusion that perhaps he wasn’t enjoying his racing quite as much as the good old days,” Henderson told Unibet.

“But it’s great that he ends his life on the track a perfectly sound and happy person and on his own terms, which is the most important thing.

“It was an amazing journey, but not one without a few hiccups along the way and I suppose the most memorable would have been when he tried to visit the Guinness Village at Cheltenham en route to winning the RSA.

“That was a tremendous race, and a fine spectacle for everyone there that day, but what made it even more significant was that we had the second, Whisper, so I would have been happier if the judge had called a dead heat!”

Native River leads Might Bite over the last in the 2018 Gold Cup
Native River leads Might Bite over the last in the 2018 Gold Cup (David Davies/PA)

Reflecting further, Henderson said: “He was one of the most amazing characters you’ll ever come across and was the most gorgeous looking horse you will ever see; he had so much presence about him and stood out more than anything else in the parade ring and was in the Sprinter Sacre sort of mould.

“In fact we pretty much purchased him on looks rather than anything else because at the time his sire, Scorpion, wasn’t as popular as he is now so we took a bit of a shot in the dark, but it was definitely worth it and he ended up winning just shy of £607,000 in prize-money and 10 of his 25 starts which is quite phenomenal.

“The highlight would have to be the King George in 2017 when he was simply marvellous and was never really going to get beaten that day because his confidence was so high and he was very much at the top of his game.”

Newland back in hunt for big-race success at Aintree

Dr Richard Newland is seeking more Aintree glory on Saturday when he saddles Beau Bay and Caid Du Lin in the William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.

The Claines trainer – who saddled Pineau De Re to win the Grand National in 2014 – is giving Beau Bay a second try at the famous fences after finishing third in this race 12 months ago and he is keen to see if Caid Du Lin takes to them.

“Beau Bay is in good form. This has been his winter target. It doesn’t get any easier for him because he’s in a high grade,” said Newland.

Caid Du Lin (left) in action at Sandown
Caid Du Lin (left) in action at Sandown (Julian Herbert/PA)

“He ran a blinder in it last year. Charlie (Hammond) gets on well with him and it would be great to see him have another spin round Aintree.

“Whether he’s good enough that remains to be seen. It will be a good run if he gets round.”

Newland is hoping Caid Du Lin’s class might see him run a big race.

“He’s a talented horse on his day. He might enjoy the challenge. It’s 50-50 he might take to Aintree,” he said.

“He jumps a bit right-handed though and this might be the limit of his trip, but we thought it was worth a go as he has a touch of class.”

Might Bite at his peak won the King George at Kempton in 2017
Might Bite at his peak won the King George at Kempton in 2017 (Julian Herbert/PA)

Nicky Henderson feels the National obstacles may bring out a return back to form for Might Bite.

The once top-class staying steeplechaser has lost his way – but connections have not given up on him yet.

“He’s been in the wilderness,” said the Seven Barrows trainer this week, on a call hosted by Great British Racing.

“He won the RSA despite going via the car park, then went to Aintree and won. The following year he was second in the Gold Cup, but after that it hasn’t been easy.

“He lost that extra something special, his jumping wasn’t as accurate as it used to be and we even went cross-country racing last year, which he loved.

“His race at Ascot the other day, we and a lot of other people thought we saw serious glimpses of the old Might Bite, bowling along in front at a good gallop, jumping for fun, and a bit of fitness was all that caught him out.

“Nico (de Boinville) has always said he wanted to bring him back in trip, he can’t ride as he’s at Sandown. His biggest weapon is his jumping, he’s schooled over Aintree fences and he was a joy to watch.

“If he goes well who knows about the National, some of his owners had to be worked on to run in this! If he loved it you’d have to have a discussion.”

Donald McCain with his mum Beryl at the statue of his father, Ginger, at Aintree
Donald McCain with his mum Beryl at the statue of his father, Ginger, at Aintree (Martin Rickett/PA)

Donald McCain, who will always be intrinsically linked to Aintree, is expecting a decent run from Federici.

The 11-year-old is no stranger to these unique fences, having had five attempts.

He has finished fourth and fifth in the Becher Chase over further and McCain feels this distance might be a shade short for Federici.

“He’s in good nick this year – he’s won twice already and he loves the fences so he has plenty of experience over them,” said the Cheshire handler.

“Two-miles-six is just on the sharp side for him, but if it keeps raining it will make a big difference.

“He’s great round the fences, touch wood, and I think Brian (Hughes) is looking forward to riding him so fingers crossed.”

Huntsman Son had been set to be a leading player for Alex Hales, but the trainer did have ground concerns and he was declared a non-runner on raceday morning.

McGrath reunited with Santini for Aintree mission

Jerry McGrath is excited about getting back on board Santini in the William Hill Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on Saturday.

The 29-year-old will come in for the ride on last season’s Gold Cup runner-up in the Grade Two with his regular rider, Nico de Boinville, set to partner stablemate Altior in the Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown on the same day.

It will be the first time McGrath has partnered Santini since steering him to victory in the Grade Two Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2018.

Santini will have the assistance of Jerry McGrath on his seasonal return at Aintree (Julian Herbert/PA Images)
Santini will have the assistance of Jerry McGrath on his seasonal return at Aintree (Julian Herbert/PA Images)

McGrath said: “I won a Grade Two on him at Cheltenham going back a few years ago when he was only just coming on the scene.

“He has been a very good horse since and I’m delighted to be getting the call up to ride him next weekend.

“The assistant trainer Billy Aprahamian sits on him most days as he takes a bit of knowing, but I will probably have a sit on him during the week or pop him over five or 10 fences to get a feel of him again.”

The Cheltenham Festival winning rider reports Santini to have taken a significant step forward from a recent racecourse gallop alongside stablemate Beware The Bear  at Newbury.

He added: “He has come on a lot for that gallop. He has never been an exuberant horse.

“Even that day when I won on him at Cheltenham I was off the bridle on him a long way out.

“He probably looks like he makes hard work of it but he always has plenty in the locker.”

Santini has saved his best efforts for Cheltenham in the past, however McGrath feels a return to a flat track should not prove an inconvenience.

He added: “We need to start him off somewhere this season and we need to get a few more miles on the clock before he goes back to Cheltenham and try go one better in the Gold Cup.

“He is a hard enough horse to place, which is probably a good thing as he is so talented, but it will be a nice starting point for him.”

Might Bite will tackle the Grand National fences for the first time in the William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (Tim Goode/PA Images)
Might Bite will tackle the Grand National fences for the first time in the William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (Tim Goode/PA Images)

McGrath will also pick up the ride aboard multiple Grade One winner Might Bite, who will make his debut over the Grand National fences on the same card in the William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.

He said: “I’m very happy to be getting the call up for him.

“Everyone knows about Might Bite and he is kind of a famous horse even with non-racing people as they have heard about his characteristics along the way.

“He has been a great servant to Seven Barrows and he keeps everyone thinking. ”

It may be the first time Might Bite has tackled the famous Aintree fences, but McGrath is confident that the 11-year-old will take to them.

He added: “I suppose one thing he has in his favour is he jumped round the cross country fences at Cheltenham last season, which I know are different fences but it was a different aspect for him to concentrate on.

“He schooled over the Aintree style fences at Lambourn last week and he took to them well.

“If he takes to the fences we should have a good spin and he will be there or thereabouts.

Might Bite appeared to show plenty of enthusiasm on his return at Ascot, and with that effort fresh in the mind McGrath is optimistic about his chances of securing a first victory since landing the 2018 Betway Bowl at the track.

He added: “Nico said they were delighted that day at Ascot. He had a bit of room and he jumped very well.

“It will be a big advantage having that run under his belt. He is an older horse and you can only get him so fit at home.

“He will appreciate going back to two-miles-five and when your jumping comes under scrutiny he will shine. “

Grand Sefton plan for Might Bite

Might Bite is set to have a spin over the Grand National fences with Nicky Henderson eyeing next month’s William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree.

The 11-year-old recorded his last victory at the Merseyside venue back in 2018 when taking the Betway Bowl over regulation fences, one of his four Grade One triumphs that also encompass the 2017 King George VI Chase.

Might Bite has struggled to make his mark over the last two campaigns, prompting Henderson to try him in the cross-country chase at the Cheltenham Festival, where he thought the distance rather than the obstacles resulted in the gelding’s distant seventh place.

He finished fifth over three miles on his return at Ascot last month, but would be dropping back to two miles and five furlongs at Aintree – something jockey Nico de Boinville is eager to try.

Henderson said: “I’ve put him in the Grand Sefton and that’s what I’m thinking. Nico has always been keen to bring him back in trip, I’ve never quite agreed on that one, but here is an opportunity to do that.

“I think the trip round there will be fine and it will be better than the three-miles-six in the cross-country race at Cheltenham in December. I think he will be fine jumping those fences.

“He loved it at Ascot on his comeback and he has been in great form since.”

Also on course for Aintree on December 5 is Le Breuil, who enjoyed a spin around Newbury with classy stablemates Global Citizen and Kildisart on Tuesday.

The eight-year-old won the National Hunt Chase at the 2019 Festival, but failed to strike in five outings last term and was fourth on his return at Kelso last month, a run that more than satisfied trainer Ben Pauling.

He said: “We needed a lead horse for the other two (at Newbury) and he goes for the Becher Chase at Aintree.

“We think we have got the Le Breuil of old back. It has taken us a while to get him back from what was quite a tough assignment in the National Hunt Chase. Last season was a bit more pulling it all back together. His reappearance at Kelso was very promising.

“I think he will go to the Becher Chase in fabulous form.”

Gordon expecting Commanche to thrive in Gold test at Ascot

Chris Gordon is confident a step up in trip will help Commanche Red resume his progression over fences in the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot.

The lightly-raced seven-year-old will bid to secure the biggest prize of his career on his first start over three miles in the competitive Grade Three prize.

Having defeated subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Simply The Betts at Kempton on his penultimate start, Commanche Red was last sighted finishing third in the Grade Two Pendil Novices’ Chase at the Sunbury track in February.

Gordon said: “This is his first time over three miles, but I always thought he would improve a little bit more over this sort of trip.

“We’ve been looking forward to stepping him up to three miles and he was going to have his first run over it at Aintree in the Grade One novice chase, but Covid stopped that.

“I don’t like making excuses for horses, but his shoe slipped back at Kempton and the toe clip went into his foot.

“You would like to think as we have looked after him he is still improving and as he is fairly unexposed, you would hope that little bit of natural progression is there. ”

Nicky Henderson believes Might Bite is capable of putting in a big performance on his return to action
Nicky Henderson believes Might Bite is capable of putting in a big performance on his return to action (Clint Hughes/PA)

Nicky Henderson reports 2017 King George VI Chase winner Might Bite to be in good order ahead as he attempts to register his first success since the Betway Bowl at Aintree over two years ago.

Henderson said: “We think he has been very well, we really do, but what we think and the rest of the world thinks might be two different things. He looks and feels great.

“We’ve got to forget about last season. Nico (de Boinville) has schooled him and the lad who rides him every day says he is loving life. We have just got to hope we can pull a miracle out of the bag.

“He has come a long way down the weights and I’m not going to say he will win, but we have done lots of work with him and I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t run a very good race.

“We all love him to bits and he has been a star. He is a character beyond a character.”

The Seven Barrows handler will also be represented by Valtor, who finished second in a Listed contest over course and distance on his last start.

Henderson added: “He has won over course and distance before but he paid the penalty for that.

“He always seems to run well here though and he is a very game horse.”

Having saddled Frodon to glory off top weight at Cheltenham last weekend, trainer Paul Nicholls will bid to repeat the trick with last year’s third Black Corton, who will be making his first start since undergoing a wind operation.

He said: “He ran well in it last year off 163 and he is 2lb lower this year. He ran some good races last year. He loves going right handed and is tough and genuine, so hopefully he will run well.

“He has had a wind op over the summer and he is fit and well, so we are hopeful of a good run.

“He is capable of carrying big weights in these handicaps, as he showed last year, and he carried top weight in that big handicap at Kempton in the spring and was second there, so he is used to it.”

The Ditcheat handler believes Bryan Carver’s 5lb claim could help the chances of Adrien Du Pont ending his lengthy losing drought.

He said: “He was a bit frustrating, so he needs to improve on what he has done. He has got no weight and Bryan Carver takes a handy 5lb off him.

“It would be no surprise to me if he did run well. Some of those races last year might not have suited him and it didn’t happen for him, but hopefully this year he will be fine.”

Whatmore is expected to benefit going back up in trip according to trainer Henry Daly (David Davies/PA images)
Whatmore is expected to benefit going back up in trip according to trainer Henry Daly (David Davies/PA images)

Whatmore enjoyed a solid first season over fences, culminating with fourth in a Listed event at the Cheltenham Festival in March and trainer Henry Daly expects the eight-year-old to make his presence felt upped in trip again.

Daly said: “He got better as he learned last season. I ran him in what was the Racing Post Chase at Kempton, then ran him quite quickly in the Listed novice chase at the Cheltenham Festival and he ran two cracking good races.

“The two and a half (miles) at Cheltenham was probably a bit too short and three around Kempton was good, so this should be ideal.

“He has run well fresh before and he has been in a long time. We have just been waiting this race as it has been on the mind for sometime.

“We’ve had a good, clean preparation going into it, so hopefully he will run well.”