13 Dec 2018

Might Bite: What went wrong in Betfair Chase? Can he return?

Might Bite Betfair Chase
Nicky Henderson is looking to restore the confidence in Might Bite before he next runs at the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. 

The nine-year-old remains the bookmakers’ favourite despite being beaten as the favourite in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month. Might Bite saw his odds drop to odds-on to win the first leg of jump racing’s Triple Crown just days before the event. 

It was the first hurdle event that Might Bite had failed to win in his lifetime, in what was its fourth race. Might Bite had won six of its seven races prior to a 226-day break since beating Bristol De Mai by seven lengths at Aintree back in April. 

However, trainer Henderson said after the Betfair Chase that his horse couldn’t get in any rhythm as the fences were unusually very big and very solid. His words were backed up as only 18 of the 25 horses finished that day, compared to 24 of 28 on the same card 12 months earlier. 

Might Bite finished the Betfair Chase in last place, some 29 lengths behind the winner, Bristol De Mai. 

Henderson added that his horse lost his own belief and confidence as a result of the Haydock race and has had his trainer schooling his prized asset prior to the King George VI Chase in less than three weeks’ time. He told Racing UK:

“I think he just lost his own belief and lost his confidence a little bit. Talking to Yogi, he said you could see that he just wasn’t as fluent, he was having to work it out, and you take out a lot of mental and physical energy. He wasn’t tired. I just think his game had gone to pieces a little bit. He’s such a good jumper, but it’s all about confidence and I just think he lost it.” 

Failing to win the Betfair Chase means Nicky Henderson missed out on potentially winning the £1 million bonus that is paid out to any horse that wins the treble – the Betfair Chase, King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. 

Should Nicky Henderson and his team return the confidence in Might Bite then there’s no reason why he won’t live up to expectations on Boxing Day by winning the King George VI Chase. Henderson’s horse is currently the 7/2 favourite with Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, followed by Waiting Patiently at 11/2 and Native River at 7/1. The Betfair Chase winner last month, Bristol De Mai, is currently back at 15/2 to win in the King George betting

Might Bite won the King George VI Chase last year – the third time Nicky Henderson had trained a horse to victory as this prestigious event, and the first win for jockey Nico de Boinville, who will be riding the same horse again this year. 

Native River beat Might Bite to first place by four-and-a-half-lengths back at Cheltenham back in March when Nick Henderson’s horse had been the 4/1 favourite. Revenge may be on course against his arch-rival on Boxing Day.

10 Dec 2018

Who will win the 2018 King George VI Chase?

First run in 1937, the King George VI Chase, which is named in honour of the former British monarch King George VI, is one of the highlights of the racing season. Taking place on Boxing Day every year, the Grade 1 National Hunt race is run over a distance of 3 miles at Kempton Park Racecourse and is designed for horses aged four years old and above. This race challenges the very best horses around, and is arguably the second most prestigious chase in England, just behind the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

According to the King George race betting odds, last year’s winner ‘Might Bite’ is the favourite to win the race for the second year running. At 2/1, it seems like everyone is expecting the Irish trained horse to dominate the race and secure an easy victory. The thoroughbred is used to racing on tracks which are just as long as the one at Kempton, and should adapt to it fairly easily. If it does, it’s hard seeing past anything other than a Might Bite win.

Might Bite might be the overwhelming favourite to secure victory, but there are plenty of other horses which have a good chance of snatching victory. As things stand, ‘Waiting Patiently’ has odds of around 6/1. The seven-year-old won all but two of his races since he started racing in 2015, finishing second in the races that he failed to win. With a 100% win ratio in chases, backing the thoroughbred seems like a fairly good bet. However, there are a couple of things that could give Waiting Patiently a slight disadvantage.

The main thing that you need to take into consideration is that this will be the longest race which he has raced in. If the trainer doesn’t take care of the horse’s stamina, it is likely that he’ll struggle towards the end of the race. It’s also worth mentioning that this race will be his first in over 300 days. There is a chance that this long rest might give him a slight advantage over this competitor who has recently raced, but it is more likely that his lack of competitive racing will put him at a disadvantage.

‘Native River’ rounds out the top three when it comes to the favourites on the odds market. With odds of around 8/1, it is only the second race in the past few years where the thoroughbred isn’t the favourite. Despite this, Native River proved earlier this year that he is able to compete with the best horses on the racecourse. In the Cheltenham Gold Cup, he managed to beat Might Bite by 4 ½ lengths. Could he do it again at Kempton?

Although these three might be the bookmakers favourite, there are plenty of horses racing that still have a good chance of securing a victory. ‘Altior’, who currently has odds of 15/1, is on a 14 race win streak which started all the way back in 2015. There’s no doubt that he’s fast, but there are huge question marks surrounding his stamina. The Irish trained horse has run no further than around 2 miles during his career which could be his downfall in the three-mile long King George Chase.

Other horses such as ‘Footpad, ‘Politologue’ and ‘Bellshill’ are also considered outside favourites, but are unlikely to come close to winning the race outright. Their odds vary from 12/1 to 14/1 and could be worth a shot with the decent form that they’ve been in over the past year or so.

A win for Might Bite seems the most likely scenario but, as we all know, anything can happen on the day and we could see a shock winner.

29 Nov 2018

Could Too Darn Hot be the Next John Gosden Superstar?

Horse Racing Enable
There is no doubting the fact that John Gosden has had a tremendous couple of seasons recently and 2019 could be just as good for him. We have heard the news recently that his star filly Enable will return to training as a five-year-old next season, with the long-term aim of winning a third Arc at Longchamp, while Stradivarius will also come back looking to dominate the staying division once more. Roaring Lion has gone to the breeding barn after a hugely successful three-year-old campaign, but Too Darn Hot could be the horse to come along and replicate that, he looks to be another hugely impressive animal in the Gosden yard.

The two-year-old has been seen four times this season and has now been put away with next season in the campaign. He has been impressive in all four starts, winning them all, including at the highest level on his last run when he beat a solid looking Group One field by nearly three lengths. He is impeccably bred by Dubawi out of Dar Re Mi, and looks sure to provide owner Andrew Lloyd Weber with many fun days out just like his mother did in these colours.

The main aims for next season are very logical steps forward for a horse of this ability. In the early part of the season, he will be aimed at the 2000 Guineas, which takes place in May at Newmarket. Then, after that, the Derby has been mentioned, which means a further step up in trip. However, John Gosden has already said he may not develop into a Derby horse - we will have to wait and see on that front. Either way, it seems incredibly likely that after taking in the 2000 Guineas, Too Darn Hot will be seen in all of the top races throughout the season, whether that is over a mile, ten furlongs or a mile and a half. 

He is already a very warm order for the 2000 Guineas, which is no surprise as this is the one target he has been confirmed for. The latest sports betting shows him as the 6/4 favourite to take that race, despite a whole winter ahead of us yet. That shows just how much the punters respect this horse, and how good the bookmakers think he could be. 

There appears to be a conveyor belt at the John Gosden yard that has the ability to churn out superstar after superstar and just as they lost Roaring Lion to the breeding barn, another has emerged to take his place. Roaring Lion had a fantastic three-year-old campaign, winning some of the biggest prizes in racing and don't be surprised to see Too Darn Hot follow in his footsteps next summer. We have seen some exceptional performances from the two-year-old, but he is set to be at his peak next season, and there could be even more to come from this special animal.

6 Nov 2018

Who Have Been The Leading Horses In The UK In 2018?

The flat season in the UK is coming to a close and, when you look back at the year we have had, it is very difficult to pinpoint moments which stand out more than others. That said, there are a handful of horses who deserve a special mention for the campaigns they have had. Here are three runners which can stake a claim for being one of the leading horses of 2018 in the UK.

Roaring Lion
Three-year-old Roaring Lion can have strong claims to be regarded as the horse of the year in 2018 as John Gosden’s runner won four Group One races and got better as the campaign unfolded. After winning the Dante Stakes at York back in May, he was regarded as one of the leading contenders in the Derby. Although he could only finish third in the British Classic, he more than made up for it with victories following in the Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day. The colt proved his durability at the highest level over a range of trips between 1m and 1m4f. Unfortunately, he was unable to end the season on a high in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Connections of their horse will be very proud of his achievements this year, however.


It’s not been a straightforward year for Enable, who did not see a racecourse until September. However, the filly has finished the campaign so strongly she has to be listed amongst the best horses of 2018. Gosden’s runner returned to France to defend her crown in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on just her second start where she held off the challenge of Sea of Class in the closing stages of the race. Just weeks later, the four-year-old travelled across to the United States where she became the first horse in history to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Arc in the same season. It remains to be seen if Enable will remain in training next year but the temptation has to be there to try to win a third straight Arc, where she has horse racing odds of 3/1 for the Longchamp contest.

Stradivarius has won all five of his starts in 2018 to end the campaign with a perfect record. The four-year-old started the season with victory coming in the Yorkshire Cup where he shook off any cobwebs to score by three lengths. Gosden’s stayer then needed to be at his best for the Group One Ascot Gold Cup in June and he stepped up to that challenge to outbattle the French-trained Vazirabad by half a length. Stradivarius had no issues adding the Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup to his name on his next two runs, while he still was at his best in October to claim the Long Distance Cup to his roll on honour this season. The chestnut colt has dominated his division and deserves full recognition for the way he has proved consistent throughout the year. With a number of two-year-old colts and fillies also shining in 2018, the future looks bright for another big season in 2019.

8 Oct 2018

Improving Fortunes for Saeed bin Suroor

2018: A Better Season for Saeed bin Suroor
Think about Godolphin's horse racing empire in the UK. Who comes to mind? Saeed bin Suroor has been part of the furniture. He took out his trainer licence in 1993. One year later, he was appointed as the trainer for Sheikh Mohammed. In those years, he has been crowned British Champion Trainer on four occasions. 

The infamous incidents of Mahmood Al Zarooni and doping of 11 horses back in 2013 brought scandal to the ranks as he admitting being in breach of the rules of racing for the use of anabolic steroids.  

In many ways, the fortunes of bin Suroor may have improved but with the announcement of Charlie Appleby taking up the reigns in 2013. The selection process especially over 2015 - 2017 saw Saeed bin Suroor become the poor relation. Certainly,  the two-year-olds were very thin on the ground and limited compared with those of Appleby who made hay while the sun shined. 

This Flat season has seen a spring in the step of Suroor with a number of brighter prospects in the two-year-old ranks and worthy betting opportunities at www.novibet.co.uk  

Saeed bin Suroor/form 

Burj - 310104
JFoul - 551160 
Dubai Legacy - 101
Al Mureib - 2523
Royal Marine - 61
Silent Hunter - 4
Dubai Beauty - 17
Mawahib - 33
Dubai Icon - 6
Royal Meeting - 1 
Light And Dark - 

This year's two-year-olds, above, have been a mixed bag but the likes of Burj, Dubai Legacy, Royal Marine & Royal Meeting are worthy of note. 

I particularly respect the chances of Royal Marine for being a very classy prospect. This April foal is a son of Raven's Pass out of a once-raced mare. This American-bred was fancied to go well on debut at Newmarket when priced 9/4 but disappointed. THat race revealed another smart horse in the shape of Jash, trained by Simon Crisford, who was beaten by just half a length when runner-up at Newmarket when competing in the Judmonte Middle Park Stakes (Group 1). 

Interestingly, Royal Marine was markedly weak in the betting when at Doncaster. He started at 11/2 but layers had got it wrong as the colt travelled well and surged clear of the field to win by an impressive when winning by two-and-a-quarter lengths. The form of that race has been franked with the second scoring with ease next start. 

Note: Royal Marine went on to win at Group 1 Longchamp, France.

There will be plenty more winners coming this season and Saeed bin Suroor will be hoping that one or two are prospects for the Guineas meeting if not the Epsom Derby. Perhaps that will be wishful think. Time will tell. However, one thing we know, Godolphin seem to be giving their original star talent the respect he deserves after a few lean years. 

28 Sep 2018

Grand National History: Winners, Losers & Those in the Middle

Red Rum Wins The Grand National 3 times
One of the most popular steeplechasers in the world? It has to be the Grand National which takes place at Aintree, Liverpool on Saturday, 6th April 2019. Take advantage of the best odds at bet-grand-national.co.uk 

The National has a history that dates back to the 17th century. There is some uncertainty about winners of earlier races which date to pre-1839. However, the first winner to be acclaimed was named Lottery (1839). Trained by George Dockeray (who won the following year with a horse named Jerry), ridden by Jem Mason. 

This horse led the way for many famous winners and stories that are stranger than fiction. 

Of the most noted winners, we all remember is Red Rum, trained by Ginger McCain. Race fans across the world remember ''Rummy'' being the only horse to taste victory on three occasions: 1973, 1974 &  1977. Such was the jumping skill that he never fell in 100 races on the National Hunt. In fact, he even won [deadheated] over 5f at Aintree when it was open to Flat racing, too. As a fitting tribute, Red Rum is buried at the finishing line at Aintree racecourse. A remarkable horse whose standing as the greatest steeplechaser in the world is unlikely to be challenged. 

As with every good fortune, there is an equal measure of loss. The Grand National is a tough race that has seen just a handful of finishers when the going is very testing. Sometimes even a likely winners ''somehow'' grasps defeat from of the jaws of victory. Even royalty can suffer the misfortune as seen in the Queen Mother's horse Devon Loch, ridden by Dick Francis, who went on to be a famous fictional writer. His real-life tale of Devon Loch still brings much questioning since its running in 1956. 

Devon Lock looked to be the winner when he ''jumped a shadow'' only yards from the finishing line, to land in a muddy heap as E.S.B and his jockey David Dick ran by at odds of 100/7. 

One of the funny stories about finishing in the middle is a jockey rather than a horse. Captain Martin William Becher (1797 - 1864) was a former soldier serving in the Napoleonic Wars and battle of Waterloo. He was also a keen steeplechase jockey taking part in the Grand National on a number of occasions. It was reputed that Becher won the 1836 Grand National but that was later disregarded. However, riding Conrad, a beast of a horse, set his name in the history books for a very different reason. The horse led but upon meeting the first major obstacle - a water jump - refused and Becher went over its head and lay in the brook until all the rivals had thundered over his head. He cursed that he didn't realise how filthy the water tasted without whisky! He remounted and was unseated again at the second water jump. He never rode in the race again but the fence was named after him called Becher's Brook.