A fascinating 2017 renewal of the King George chase went the way of favourite Might Bite, who justified his odds of 6/4 with a convincing display that erased the memory of his last fence fall in the Feltham here 12 months ago as a novice.
Always prominent under the calm Nico de Boinville, he sat just behind second favourite Bristol De Mai, before taking up the lead from four out. Showing his usual speed and bold, accurate jumping, Mite Bite held off 50/1 outsider Double Shuffle and 20/1 shot Tea For Two, who both finished strongly to take second and third positions respectively. The winning distance over those rivals may not seem too impressive, but the result never seemed in doubt and we know from previous experience that the winner tends to get lonely out in front.
Second favourite Bristol De Mai set off out in front with his usual front-running tactics, but simply wasn’t able to sustain his challenge with the course placing too much emphasis on speed and the ground not soft enough. It’s clear that he’s at his best in the mud at a galloping track like Haydock and should always be considered a huge threat in those circumstances.
Last year’s sensational winner Thistlecrack showed plenty more encouragement in finishing fourth, just over 5 lengths behind the winner, and may have more improvement in the locker. Sadly it seems like we are unlikely to see the same horse that looked so imperious last season, but he clearly still retains a significant amount of ability.
There’s likely to be one more run for Might Bite before Cheltenham, ground permitting. At odds no bigger than 6/1, only reigning champion Sizing John is ahead of him in the market. Along with the undoubted potential of Yorkhill, we could be set for a thriller.