Sunday 19 August 2018

Might Bite the one to beat in King George - Ruby

Thistlecrack coasts home under Tom Scudamore at Kempton last year, but Ruby Walsh feels Might Bite will rule this time. Photo: PA
Thistlecrack coasts home under Tom Scudamore at Kempton last year, but Ruby Walsh feels Might Bite will rule this time. Photo: PA

Keith Hamer

Ruby Walsh won the King George at Kempton a record five times aboard Kauto Star but will be an interested observer this year as he is currently nursing a broken leg after last month's fall at Punchestown.

The champion jockey believes Nicky Henderson's Might Bite will take all the beating if his displays as a novice - particularly in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham where Walsh was third on Bellshill - is anything to go by.

"Strictly going on novice form and the performance he was putting up in last year's Feltham, I'd be leaning towards Might Bite," Walsh told Racing UK.

"I rode in his RSA and the gallop he went was phenomenal. The pace he showed, the speed he went, he had Whisper to the sword and had us all flat to the boards from flagfall.

Outstanding

"I actually thought when we headed out on the second circuit, the speed these are going they are going to fall in a hole and I didn't want to be left in front too soon, but Might Bite didn't slow down. He kept it up and it was an outstanding performance.

"That's not allowing what he did in the closing stages, but Kempton will suit him, going right-handed. I think he'll be very hard to beat."

Walsh added: "If we were to get a drop of rain this week and the track was to get a little bit slower, Bristol De Mai's performance in the Betfair Chase was outstanding.

"He's an unbelievably strong stayer and that's why he's so good on testing ground. He just goes the same speed and he kills off the opposition.

"I won't be say he won't go on good ground. It's just can he burn the opposition off to the same effect? I don't think he can. I can see him being a bigger player in the Gold Cup."

However, Tom Scudamore is hoping Thistlecrack can prove the doubters wrong when he goes for back-to-back victories in the Kempton showpiece.

The nine-year-old disappointed on his comeback from injury when fading into fifth place behind shock winner Beer Goggles in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month. Connections of Colin Tizzard's star feel the reason for the below-par display was purely down to a lack of race fitness.

Thistlecrack had been sidelined since being beaten by Many Clouds in an epic finish to the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January.

"It felt like he had all his old spark, but just got tired from going to the second last. After that the race was over," Scudamore told At The Races.

"He felt the same, he had all his old enthusiasm, but his fitness on this occasion just wasn't there. He'd suffered an injury at Cheltenham and had plenty of time off the track.

"He'd been showing everyone the right signs at home. Joe and Colin (Tizzard) were happy with him, but unfortunately the time he had off just got the better of him at Newbury.

"We're all hoping from what Colin and Joe tell me he's been going very well at home, but the proof in the pudding will be on the day."

Irish Independent

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