Cheltenham Festival Special: MIGHT BITE SHARP ENOUGH FOR GOLD CUP HONOURS.

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By James Daly 

Might Bite’s class should see him run a very big race in Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Nicky Henderson trained 9-year-old won the RSA at last year’s festival, despite veering badly right after the last fence, and has won both his races this season comfortably, including the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton over Christmas.

On the face of it, none of his rivals have that sort of form in the book this season and, although there is a slight stamina doubt over the three and a quarter miles trip, particularly in deep ground (and hopefully no repeat of the swerve), 4/1, currently, is tempting, as the horse looks a bet to nothing to be in the first three. The Gold Cup is, however, never just a one-horse race and Native River was impressive at Newbury in February when winning his only race to date this season, the Grade 2 Denman Chase.

There has been money for the Tizzard’s 8-year-old and he is sure to stay the trip, having been placed in the race last year. There is ,however, a possibility that the horse might ‘bounce’ on only his second run back this season but if not, is suggested as a saver, in case Might Bite underperforms .

Road To Respect is probably the best of the Irish after Sizing John disappointed behind that horse at Leopardstown in December last year and is certainly worth an each way play at around 10/1(may be bigger on the day).Sizing John, last year’s winner could revive, but is short enough in the market and if looking for an each way outsider, then northern challenger Definitly Red is overpriced at 16/1, having won a Grade 2 at the course last time out from a decent horse and is another one who, if still in contention coming down the Cheltenham hill, will stay every yard of the trip. An exciting race in prospect with punters ‘biting’ their lips in anticipation.

SELECTION: MIGHT BITE 3 points to win

SAVER: NATIVE RIVER 1 point to win

EACH WAY: ROAD TO RESPECT 1 point each way

BEST OUTSIDER: DEFINITLY RED 1 point each way

CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP LEADING CONTENDERS

MIGHT BITE

Major player, having won the Grade 1 King George IV Chase over Christmas. Class likely to see him go very close but has his quirks and will need to stay the full distance of Gold Cup, particularly if ground gets testing.

SIZING JOHN

Won the race last year but disappointed over Christmas at Leopardstown. Needs to bounce back and could well do with top jockey aboard, but others preferred.

NATIVE RIVER

Placed in the race last year and won only start of season impressively at Newbury in February. Chance he might ‘bounce’ but, if not, has to be in the money as is such a strong stayer.

ROAD TO RESPECT

Probably the best of the Irish and won the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown in December. Has won at Cheltenham before, so looks a good each way play.

OUR DUKE

Improving 8 year old for Jessica Harrington and won the Irish Grand National last season. May lack the pace to be there at finish though, and others preferred.

MINELLA ROCCO

Trained locally by Jonjo O’Neill and second in the race last year. Probably not good enough in a stronger contest this year.

KILLULTAGH VIC

Interesting runner for Willie Mullins and was unlucky not to win last time out when leading but falling at the last fence. Could outrun his odds and sneak a place.

TOTAL RECALL

Another Mullins’s contender who won the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November so should not be underestimated but is also being aimed at the Grand National.

DEFINITLY RED

Northern challenger who won a Grade 2 here last time out from a decent horse. Sure to stay the trip well and looks overpriced at 16/1.

DJAKADAM

Fourth in the race last year and second in 2016 but has loads to find on several of the opposition on this season’s form. Best days appear to be behind him.

OUTLANDER

Capable of running well if on a going day. Fancied to run a big race last year but was never travelling. Big price ,if deciding to put best foot forward.