Might Bite wins by skin of his teeth after nearly blowing it
Might Bite, the exceptional talent some pundits nevertheless insisted was the lay of the week, bit back to confound them all.
But while the 7-2 favourite's RSA Chase success will have left many of them deeply out of pocket, he confirmed their doubts by all but throwing the race away when well clear at the last. Indeed without a loose horse to help him on the run-in it is doubtful he would have got back to deny stablemate Whisper on the line in the most dramatic of finishes.
Might Bite's winning margin was just a nose, but he was 20 lengths clear turning in, having led at the second and stretched right away down the hill. He is clearly the outstanding talent his Kauto Star Chase performance suggested before his last-fence fall. He was a long way clear there too, and while it looked too good to be true it wasn't.
He looks made for a return to Kempton on Boxing Day in the King George, and Paddy Power were impressed enough to go just 3-1 (from 10s), although others were more generous.
King George the target
Nicky Henderson agreed, saying: "I think the King George is the obvious place for him, because we know you can roll around Kempton at that pace, whereas three-and-a-quarter round here [in the Gold Cup] would be a different ball game, although you never know."
He added: "At first I was thinking a dead-heat would be fair to everyone, but it wouldn't have been really because Might Bite was clearly the best horse. But as Nico [de Boinville] said, going to the last he was looking everywhere.
"It makes you wonder what he was looking at when he fell at the last fence at Kempton. I don't know how he knows it's the last fence, but he's obviously got quite a brain on him. He's got to learn, but he's only a baby.
"The future is obviously enormous. He's deceptive, how quickly he's going. It doesn't look as though he's going that quick, but the boys behind will tell you he's going a million miles an hour.
"I don't see how you can iron out that quirk, but we've got to be aware of it in the future. He's not naughty, but there's something in his make-up."
De Boinville, who had won the Arkle on Henderson's Altior 24 hours earlier, took the drama of Might Bite threatening to hang the race away in his stride.
'So much talent it's scary'
He said: "He's such a talented horse and very special, but he's a bit of a thinker sometimes and we've got to deal with that. He's got so much talent it's scary.
"He winged the first in the straight and he was set to wing the last, but he just saw the entrance, lost concentration and got in tight – and then he just thought 'Right, I'm going over there'. Luckily the loose horse came at the perfect time and helped me get back up, but if Whisper had been going any quicker we wouldn't have won."
Davy Russell, who picked up a four-day whip ban on Whisper, said: "They went a very good gallop and it was a true test. Obviously the best horse has won. I kept going at the one pace but it was Nico’s horse who stopped in front and gave it away a bit.”
Willie Mullins, still seeking a first win of the week, was encouraged by third-placed Bellshill and said: "It was a fantastic race; I’ve never seen anything like it. I was pleased with my fellow – at least he ran like a racehorse today. He jumped well and there’s still a future. He’ll go to Punchestown next."