Ruby Walsh: Might Bite could be one of the greatest horses we’ve ever seen
Ruby Walsh, the most successful jockey at the Cheltenham Festival, believes Gold Cup favourite Might Bite is “potentially one of the greatest horses we’ve ever seen”.
Walsh, who has been top jockey on 11 occasions at the festival and won the Gold Cup aboard Kauto Star in 2007 and 2009, reckons he has yet to see the best of the Nicky Henderson-trained chaser, who on Thursday was a general 3-1 chance for the Timico-backed showpiece on Friday week.
Recalling last year’s RSA Chase, in which he finished third behind Might Bite aboard Bellshill, after the winner almost threw the race away when veering violently right at the last, Walsh said: “He has an incredible way of going.
“On the second circuit, I was thinking to myself ‘I’m going to win a distance here, as these lads are going way too quick.’ The rest of them up in front did stop but Might Bite didn’t.
He added: “When he turned in at the top of the hill, away he went again, further and further in front. When he went to run out after the last, and then got going again, to put it into human terms, if you stop on a treadmill or on a bike, it’s very hard to get going again never mind get back into top gear, but Might Bite did just that.”
The rider, who was speaking at a media event organised by Paddy Power on the eve of his eagerly awaited return to race-riding at Thurles, added: “If he didn’t have that kink in him he’d be 6-4 favourite for the Gold Cup and not 4-1.”
Might Bite's King George victory received mixed views with some observers suggesting the close proximity of the runner-up, Double Shuffle, rated 11lb inferior to him at the time, gave a hollow reading to the form.
Walsh doesn’t go along with that view and believes Might Bite was simply racing within his comfort zone in dispatching far inferior rivals.
He said: “Might Bite goes to the last in a King George and he jumps it like Milton in a showjumping class – he gave it three foot. I mean, how much does he have in the tank? I don’t know where the bottom of Might Bite is.
“He could be one of the greatest horses of all time as he always seems to have so much left in the tank by the time the race is over.”
Yet to decide
Walsh will be aiming to add to his 56 festival winners next week but has yet to decide who he will ride in the Friday feature.
Mulling over Willie Mullins’ Gold Cup contenders, Djakadam, Bachasson, Total Recall and Killultagh Vic, he said: “Total Recall is the improver but can he improve enough to win a Gold Cup? I don’t know.
“Killultagh Vic looked as though he was going to win the Irish Gold Cup but he fell at the last and he lacks experience, while Bachasson is in there as well.
“That leaves Djakadam, who I’ve always felt would win a Gold Cup. If I desert him, having ridden him in the last three renewals of the race, he’ll surely go and bite me in the ass and win it this year. He’ll be a hard horse to overlook.”
He concluded: “I think this year’s Gold Cup will be run at a ferocious gallop. They’ll be strung out over Cleeve Hill and they’ll be finishing in intervals, which could set it up for something coming from off the pace, like a Lord Windermere or something.
“I think, though, whatever gets by Might Bite will win.”
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