No drama this time as Might Bite proves too good for Whisper again
Might Bite has a reputation for the unpredictable, crashing out at the last with the Feltham Novices' Chase won in December and nearly throwing away the RSA Chase when veering wildly right on the run-in.
But just when his audience was wondering what he would do next, Might Bite became predictable and confirmed Cheltenham finishing places with stablemate Whisper, beating him by a wider margin than the nose that separated them last month.
The wily Davy Russell tried to anticipate any late antics by positioning Whisper to Might Bite's left at the last, but no drama ensued as Might Bite led from start to finish to win by two lengths, becoming the first RSA winner since Star De Mohaison 11 years ago to follow up in the Aintree Grade 1.
Winning jockey Nico de Boinville said: "He jumped really slickly and didn't try any of the things he can do. He has tremendous talent and he's only going to progress.
"You know he has his quirks, but he's so quick through the air and travels so well that you have to make the most of it. At the last I thought about going in tight but there was a little stride there and he's just come for me.
"I'm very aware he could put down on me; you just have to be careful but keep the revs up at the same time."
Now he could meet Thistlecrack at Kempton in December, with trainer Nicky Henderson nominating the race as a key target next term.
"What he was doing at Kempton makes you think the King George is the obvious place," he said. "He'll have a run before.
"Whisper ought to be looking at the Hennessy [Ladbrokes Trophy]. I think Davy was trying to talk Dai Walters [owner] into the Grand National.
"Might Bite has proved he can handle all tracks. He can go left, go right and he can jump the last properly when he wants to.
"He probably hasn't set fractions quite like he can do, but it's very hard to come on from Cheltenham in March, whereas Whisper has really stepped up.
"Davy gave him a great ride and there was no chance he was going to go to Might Bite's right to help. He was always going to sneak up the left, which was right."
Henderson added: "There was a nose between them at Cheltenham but that gap should have been wider, in which case Whisper closed it today.
"Whisper loves Aintree, where he has won two Grade 1 hurdles. He has become a real friend and it feels a bit unkind to be beating him up with your younger horses.
"Let's hope next year we can keep them apart."
Groom Arron Rid