Cheltenham Gold Cup Rematch: Native River takes on Might Bite
Haydock Park was the scene of this Saturday’s Champion racing. The Betfair Chase; the first of the Grade One staying chases in England saw the rematch between Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River and runner-up Might Bite. However, many couldn’t have predicted the outcome. Were you surprised with the result?
The Grade One Betfair chase ran on Saturday received major coverage in anticipation. With many highly anticipating the rematch between Native River and Might Bite. The rivalry between the two dates back to Cheltenham Festival in 2018. 5-1 favourite Native River finished first in a close finish and saw off Might Bite presenting champion jockey Richard Johnson with his second Gold Cup win. The Betfair Chase on Saturday was a rematch between the Ante Post Gold Cup Market Leaders and the race was eagerly anticipated by racing fans.
However, not many could have predicted what actually happened. Dubbed originally as a race between the two, course specialist Bristol De Mai had wrongfully been overlooked. The 13-2 chance led from the front to see off Native River and the field. A disappointing race for the Nicky Henderson camp as Might Bite finished tailed off in last place. The display from Might Bite was unrecognisable and certainly not the rematch everyone had hoped for. Finishing a tired 20 lengths behind fourth place finisher this was not one of Might Bite’s finest hours.
Following a number of falls in other races from the day the fences came under scrutiny for being stiff and hard to jump. With many claiming they were dangerous for both horse and jockey. Nico De Boinville claimed they were unfair and Might Bite used up too much energy to get over them initially. Nicky Henderson also reflected on the day’s events stating:
“Normally his jumping is deadly but that is not the whole story. His work had been terrific but maybe he was not as straight as I thought he was.’
Are the challenging fences to blame for the outcome? We spoke to our horse racing specialist here at Eventmasters for his thoughts on everything that went down at Haydock:
“The display from Mite Bite certainly did not represent the horse we know, I am not sure that it was down to the fences as the other horses all managed to get round. I merely think that with Haydock being a flat tack in comparison this suited the running style of Bristol De Mai and horses like Native River & Mite Bite need a longer and more durable test to show their quality. The one to take from the race for me was Thistlecrack, he received a quiet ride and ran on excellently into third showing that there is more to come and a big day lies in him still”
With the chasing Triple Crown bonus set at £1 million, this race was undoubtedly a big one for all involved. We can’t wait to see what will come from the next two legs. Will Native River retain his Cheltenham Gold Cup title next year?