Insatiable Might Bite holds it together to bring home King George for Henderson
Might Bite is a showman with an appetite for the unexpected, a horse with flair and flaws.
A year ago at Kempton he acrobatically crashed out at the last fence of the Kauto Star Novices' Chase with victory in the bag.
At Cheltenham in March he nearly threw away RSA Chase glory when veering across the course.
But, back at the scene of his most spectacular failure, he found an assuredness to match the ego, dominating a field headed by wide-margin Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai to claim the 32Red King George VI Chase.
He thwarted Bristol De Mai's attempt to make all, pressing the grey throughout until forcing his way to the front from four out and into a clear advantage in the straight.
He never gave his supporters any reason to worry about his jumping, but even after a good leap at the last the gallant Double Shuffle had not been shaken off, and he closed the gap to a length at the post, with Tea For Two third and Thistlecrack fourth.
"We've been very lucky and he's nearly in Sprinter's league in the good-looking stakes; he's got so much presence and charisma," said trainer Nicky Henderson, comparing Might Bite with former stable great Sprinter Sacre.
"You can't help but love him, he's just so gorgeous and he loves to show off. He likes to jump like that, boss it and say, 'Look at me'.
"He was enjoying himself. We have our scheme, which is to try not to press before the last. We don't let him know that it's the last, and then you can go for your life after it. It's to try to iron out whatever was going wrong last year.
"I could see he was on a very good stride but Nico [de Boinville] was being very sensible, he had him in his hands on a good stride a long way out."
Might Bite was generally trimmed to 5-1 (from 6) for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, but in adding to his big-race winning tally here he has already exceeded the expectations of many of the ten members of the Knot Again Partnership.
"When you've had your first runner at Folkestone and been around all the gaff tracks, to end up here at Kempton on Boxing Day having been here to see Wayward Lad and Desert Orchid when I was growing up, it's just great," said Simon Philip.
"Just to be part of the story of this famous race is a privilege beyond measure.
"I sat watching the rainfall last night thinking our chances were drifting away. He slogged his way through it and would have hated this. Nico said it was riding a lot softer than it looked."
He continued: "Boy, we are going to savour this moment. It's a great race and just to be part of the fabric of that in posterity now is fantastic.
"He was impeccable and hopefully people will start taking him more seriously now. It's an absolute privilege to own him."
Despite Might Bite being on his best behaviour this season, Henderson remains alive to the possibility of his going off message at Cheltenham and may take him straight there without another run.
And the trainer will want to win more King George VI Chases at Kempton, issuing another reminder that he remains steadfastly opposed to the Jockey Club's ambitions to redevelop the course for housing, which the track owners announced last January to widespread consternation.
"They will be taking me in the bulldozer because I will be tied to the last ditch with handcuffs," he said.
"It's absolutely ridiculous. This is a proper racecourse, it's got its own uniqueness. I'll go down with it."
Of Might Bite's Gold Cup challenge, he added: "He has got to behave at Cheltenham, hasn't he? What happened here last year was one of those things. It didn't happen again today thank goodness, but there was no reason why it should.
"Cheltenham is a different ball game. He'll jump the last and will probably want to go right.
"The next question is where do we go next, what are we going to do? He could have one run.
"My thoughts are, does he even need a race? It won't be a slog in a bog wherever it is."
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