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.