Last season’s RSA Chase winner Might Bite has opened up as the bookmakers’ favourite to win the King George VI Chase this year, where he is set to take the step up in class for the first time now he is out of novice company.
Nicky Henderson’s chaser made his seasonal reappearance at Sandown earlier this month, where he did not put a foot wrong in his victory as he prevailed by eight lengths. A return to Kempton on Boxing Day will come exactly 12 months after he fell at the last fence in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase where he had the race wrapped up before his mistake.
When Might Bite ended his 2016/17 campaign, there was no doubt he was the leading novice in his division. He led for the majority of the race in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. After jumping the last, the eight-year-old veered to the right, which allowed his closest challenger Whisper to make up ground up the hill at the Gloucestershire racecourse. Fortunately for connections, he found a second wind and got back up by a neck to land the 3m contest. Just weeks later, he followed that success up with victory in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at the Grand National meeting at Aintree.
Along with Might Bite, Champion Trainer Henderson has a number of novices who will be taking on the older generation in the new campaign, including Altior who is included in many pundits’ five horses to follow this season. If his novices make the step up in class successfully, he is likely to defend his title and become the Champion Trainer for the fifth time in his career.
Thistlecrack on Course for Return to Action
In 2016 Thistlecrack was one of the most impressive winners of the King George that we have seen in recent years. The first-year chaser blew a strong field that included Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti and, as a result, became the new favourite to win the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sadly for connections of the former World Hurdle winner, he picked up an injury in January which ruled him out of the Festival.
Colin Tizzard’s runner has not raced since his setback 10 months ago, however, he did have a racecourse gallop a couple of weeks ago at Wincanton and connections have been positive about how their superstar has schooled in recent months.
Despite winning the King George in 2016, the nine-year-old has only ever run in five races over fences in his career so far. If all goes well at Kempton, he is likely to appear in January again in the Cotswold Chase before his first shot at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Thistlecrack recorded an official rating of 174 over hurdle and with a second win in the Boxing Day feature in the UK, he could at least match that figure over fences. The talented chaser is a top price of 7/2 to become the fourth horse in this millennium to defend its crown in the King George.
Gold Cup Winner Sizing John Expected to Line Up at Kempton
We could be seeing a lot more of the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John this season in the UK, as not only does he have an entry in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, he is included in the latest declarations for the King George.
Since stepping up to the 3m division earlier in 2017, Sizing John has been in the form of his life with victories also coming in the Irish Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup. Jessica Harrington’s runner won lots of prize money when he was campaigned over 2m, however, he often bumped into Douvan where he had to settle for second place in many of the top races in the UK and Ireland.
The seven-year-old was one of the youngest ever winners of the Gold Cup back in March, therefore, connections must be hopeful that their horse can continue to improve. He is 7/2 to come out on top at Kempton which is the second leg of the Chase Triple Crown this season.
The King George is part of a packed card on Boxing Day which also features the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and all the leading races can be seen live on ITV1.