Bite to swallow up his rivals in King George
The King George VI Chase is one of the highlights of the jumps calendar and this year's renewal looks set to be a cracker.
A lot of the pre-race build up to the Christmas period feature race has been around Nicky Henderson's MIGHT BITE. The Seven Barrows trainer's charge tops BTO+ ratings by a significant margin heading into the contest, and Henderson recently revealing that he his thinks his charge has improved. The son of Scorpion has ability in abundance but also has his quirks. He was going to cruise to victory in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last term but lurched to his right and nearly threw away the contest. Might Bite did, however, make an easy return success at Sandown last month, scooting to an eight-length success. Nevertheless, today is by far the eight-year-old's litmus test coming up against more experienced opposition. It's difficult not to forget Might Bite's effort on this card last year when he fell at last in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase when around 20 lengths clear. That run does suggest he will enjoy the track, though, and jockey Daryl Jacob probably asked for too much out of his mount. Nico de Boinville rides Might Bite today and the jockey boasts a superb 144% strike rate over the course and distance.
BRISTOL DE MAI is looking to land the second leg of the £1 million bonus. Nigel Twiston-Davies' charge delivered one of the most dominant performances of recent seasons to land the Betfair Chase at Haydock. The son of Saddler Maker revelled in soft conditions to win by a barnstorming 57 lengths, following up his success in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. The one overwhelming concern about Bristol De Mai is the ground. He's a mud-lover, but today's affair will be raced on good ground. If the six-year-old does get into the rhythm as he did at Haydock then he could be dangerous. Twiston-Davies also means business when he runs his horses at Kempton, showing a win rate 50% better than expected.
Many racing fans will be hoping to see THISTLECRACK get back to his best. The nine-year-old son of Kayf Tara recorded a sumptuous performance last season to win the race as a novice by three-and-a-quarter lengths, producing a superb round of jumping right the way round. Thistlecrack was forced to miss the Cheltenham Gold Cup through injury and could only manage a fifth-place finish in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on his return last month. However, Colin Tizzard's charge should come on for the effort and could well be underestimated.
The Devon handler also runs FOX NORTON. He's best known for his exploits over shorter distances and steps up to three miles for the first time. The son of Lando got the better of Un De Sceaux in the Champion Chase at the Punchestown Festival last term and also clinched the Schloer Chase at Cheltenham last month. His poor run in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last time has prompted connections to try Fox Norton over three miles. Given the way he won the Melling Chase at Aintree in April, the trip might not prove a problem for the gelding. Fox Norton relishes right-handed tracks showing a 50% better than expected strike rate going clockwise.
WHISPER ran a belter in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase last time out. He was involved in a thrilling finish with Total Recall, with the Willie Mullins raider coming out on top. It was an encouraging performance from Whisper, yet he has to reverse form with Might Bite from Cheltenham and Aintree.