Unknown factor for Might Bite
Nicky Henderson admits it is impossible to know how Might Bite will react to the famous Cheltenham hill until he gets back there for his moment of destiny in March.
The King George VI Chase winner featured amongst a bumper entry of 38 for the £625,000 Gold Cup in March, with defending champion Sizing John and last year's runner-up Minella Rocco also amongst them.
Might Bite is in rude health following last month's King George win at Kempton and will head for the Cotswolds as one of the leading contenders for Blue Riband success. He is currently 4/1 in the betting for the Gold Cup.
He will however have a major question to answer on 16th March.
Last season he had the RSA Chase at his mercy jumping the last, only to idle and veer sideways on the run-in. It looked to have cost him the race as stablemate Whisper went past, only for Nico de Boinville's mount to rally strongly and snatch the verdict on the line.
Champion trainer Henderson admits it is impossible to say how he'll react come March, or whether the stamina sapping Gold Cup trip will suit Might Bite.
"We can't guarantee he'll stay the Gold Cup trip as he has never tried three-miles-two-and-a-half furlongs," said the trainer.
"That said, he does stay - and he stayed an awfully long way in the RSA, if you go via the Arkle bar and Guinness tent you're covering a fair bit further than everything else.
"The biggest concern is not the stamina but whether he jumps the final fence and keeps straight.
"That has to be the crucial thing. He can't afford to deviate off a straight line in the Gold Cup. That is the one issue. All we can do is hope, as there isn't a lot we can do about it."
Sizing John is 666/1 to retain his Gold Cup crown after a disappointing run at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Henderson says Might Bite could have one more run before March, with next month's Denman Chase at Newbury most likely.
He could meet Native River, third in the Gold Cup last term, as trainer Colin Tizzard is targeting that race for his comeback.
Native River is 5/1 to land the big race at the Cheltenham Festival this time around.
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