Might Bite could turn out to be the best thing since sliced bread but must win what could be one of the last King George V1 Chases at Kempton on Boxing Day to enhance an already lofty reputation. The horse has tried to lose races in the past but on Tuesday takes the step on a journey that could culminate with a win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next march. Might Bite is as nutty as a fruit (Christmas) cake and a flawed genius but the betting public love him. He gives value for money and wins by a street or gets into bother.
The owners of Kempton Park racecourse, the Jockey Club, are considering closing the track and selling the land for housing development. They have suggested the King George would be run at Sandown but that would take away the intrinsic nature of the second most prestigious chase of the season. Kempton is a flat, right-handed track. Although the King George is a key trial for the Gold Cup it is an important race in its own right and identifies the best chasers. Former multiple winners include Desert Orchid and Kauto Star, two of the best chasers over the last 40 years.
A King George run at Sandown would purely be a trial for the chase that matters most at Cheltenham. Even though the track runs in the opposite direction its demands are similar to those of Cheltenham. The mid-season championship would also lose some of its resonance with racing professionals and the punting fraternity. Kempton is the nearest track to central London and it would be missed as an entertainment facility. Critics say it is a soulless place on any other day but that’s like saying Aintree has no atmosphere for fixtures other than on Grand National day.
Might Bite was running a hugely impressive race at Kempton in the Grade 1 novices’ chase at the Christmas meeting last year. The horse had run the rest of the field ragged and with the race in the bag fell at the final fence. In the RSA Chase at the festival Might Bite swerved violently on the run-in when well clear after the last. Whipser took advantage but Might Bite got up in the last strides to record a bizarre win. Whisper’s subsequent form suggests Might Bite is an exceptional horse. He was impressive when winning at Aintree the following month.
The latest odds suggest Bristol De Mai is the horse most likely to upset the Might Bite apple cart. The grey was mightily impressive in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and is now trying to win the second leg of three races and a one million pound bonus if completing the set in the Gold Cup. Bristol de Mai loves racing on soft ground at Haydock and is not proven elsewhere at the highest level. Might Bite has enough in hand to finish in front of the nearest challenger barring accidents. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that anything can happen with this horse and it usually does.
Thistecrack won the King George last year but ran poorly after an absence through injury at Newbury in his comeback race. The trainer says the horse got tired and will be much fitter on Boxing Day. However, it is difficult for a horse to recapture former glories after an injury. Stable mate Fox Norton is suited to shorter distances while Cue Card, also trained by Colin Tizzard, is unlikely to run. Whisper looks overpriced but is an inferior animal to the market leader. By a process of elimination Might Bite is the horse to back in the 2017 King George.