Horse Racing News – 3rd January 2018

Henderson The Kempton King As Bite Delivers And News From Ireland

Might Bite Best In Kempton Christmas Cracker

As ever the undoubted highlight of the festive racing fare came at the Sunbury-on-Thames venue of Kempton Park. There are few races so steeped in history as the King George VI, having been won on multiple occasions by legends of the game such as Desert Orchid and the brilliant five-time hero, Kauto Star.

Despite seemingly stiff competition from the likes of Bristol De Mai, Thistlecrack, Fox Norton and more, Nicky Henderson’s rising star, Might Bite, was the name on everyone’s lips headed into this year’s renewal, with the eight year old being sent off the 6/4 market leader. To the joy of favourite backers up and down the country, this son of Scorpion proved more than up to the task.

Showing none of the wayward tendencies which saw him come down at the last at this meeting last term, and very nearly clutch defeat from the jaws of victory in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Might Bite took on confirmed frontrunner Bristol De Mai from an early stage, and it wasn’t long before he had that rival under serious pressure. Utilising his speed to quickly pull four lengths clear of the field, the winning margin was only a length at the line, but he never looked in any real danger of being caught.

With 50/1 outsider Double Shuffle and 20/1 shot Tea For Two filling the places, there are many who are questioning the value of the form. Whilst there be may some merit in the argument Might Bite will need to improve if he is to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, it is nevertheless difficult to dispute that he deserves his place at the head of the market for the jewel in the National Hunt crown; Coral make him their 4/1 jolly for that race.

…But Sizing Slumps And Faugheen Flops In Ireland

Whilst Might Bite rubber stamped his credentials at the head of the Gold Cup market, defending champion  Sizing John did anything but in his Christmas outing at Leopardstown. A run of four consecutive wins in Grade 1 company came to shuddering halt as the Jessica Harrington star came home seventh of the eight finishers in the Christmas Chase, fully 32 lengths adrift of the winner, Road To Respect.

Whilst this can hardly go down as an ideal stepping stone to Gold Cup glory, he was found to be post-race abnormal and the suspicion is he simply wasn’t right on this particular day. Sizing John remains 6/1 second favourite in BetVictor’s Gold Cup market, with Road To Respect available at 10/1 with Bet365.

If the performance of Sizing John has a little puzzling, the effort of Faugheen in the Ryanair Hurdle remains a total head-scratcher at this stage. Brilliant when slaughtering the field by 15 lengths in the Morgiana Hurdle on his comeback from injury, he was sent of a prohibitive 1/6f here, only to be pulled up with two flights still to jump. With no reason yet forthcoming for this abject display, his Champion Hurdle credentials must be under some scrutiny now, particular with Buveur D’air looking irresistible one again when landing the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

For Willie Mullins this was just the latest in a disappointing Christmas period overall, with the undoubted low point being the loss of his eight time Grade 1 winner, Nichols Canyon.

And A Late Christmas Present From Chepstow

The racing held up pretty well overall over the festive period, but we did have one notable casualty, with Chepstow’s Welsh Grand National card being abandoned on the 27th December due to almost river-like conditions. December’s loss is January’s gain however with the race now set to take place this coming Saturday. It’s 10/1 the field at present in what looks a typically competitive renewal, with course specialist, Rock The Kasbah, Chase The Spud and Mysteree amongst those vying for favouritism.