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Might Bite the horse to beat as Gold Cup field thins out

Posted on | February 15, 2018 | No Comments

The start of the new year has already produced some thrilling National Hunt races but as a long cold January finally came to an end, attention starts to turn firmly to March and the Cheltenham Festival.

Over the last few weeks, horses have been finding, or in some cases losing, form and with trainers starting to make decisions on their final entries, fields for the feature races are starting to take shape. The highlight of this, and any other Cheltenham week will be Friday’s Gold Cup and already there are some firm favourites with around a month still to go before the off.

Out in Front

Early betting shows a clear favourite with Might Bite listed at a general 7/2 with most outlets ahead of the Gold Cup. The 2018 renewal of this prestigious event goes off on Friday, March 16 this year and when at Timeform, punters can check all of the competition and look for tips as to who can challenge the market leader.

Native River and Sizing John are the closest challengers to Might Bite, but while the final declaration is some way away, there is the option to get a long antepost price on any of those three ahead of any potential shortening as we get closer to the off.

Gold Cup News

In the Cheltenham trials and in other big National Hunt events since the Christmas period, trainers and owners have been weighing up their options for the Gold Cup and for the 2018 Cheltenham Festival as a whole.

One piece of news has disappointed supporters of Disko but perhaps this isn’t the most surprising update of recent weeks. Trainer Noel Meade has reported an injury setback and the horse, who was highly rated in some areas as a potential 16/1 shot, will miss the big race.

Elsewhere, Ruth Jefferson has made the decision to take Cloudy Dream out of the Gold Cup in favour of the RyanAir Chase over a shorter distance. The horse performed well at Newbury over a similar length and is therefore in good shape coming into the Festival.

With those withdrawals confirmed, how are the remaining horses shaping up ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2018?

In form

The horse that many are watching right now is Native River after he headed Cloudy Dream into second place in that Denman Chase at Newbury. It was an impressive run for Colin Tizzard’s eight-year-old, in view of the fact that he was returning to the track after an 11-month spell and if he maintains that form he could be in the winner’s enclosure on Gold Cup day.

Native River will, however, need to be at his absolute best on March 16 as the favourite Might Bite heads the betting for a very good reason. A previous winner at the Cheltenham Festival in the RSA Novices Chase in a memorable finish to that race, Might Bite was rather more comfortable as he took out the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and is being managed well by his experienced trainer in the countdown to the Gold Cup.

Might Bite’s overall record of nine wins from 14 races may not necessarily seem outstanding but it’s his recent performances that make him the bookies’ favourite for the big race at Cheltenham this year. The nine-year-old has won each of his last five outings and it’s that win at Kempton that confirms his form and suggests an early antepost bet may be a good option.

Staying in Touch

Sizing John may have something to say about that and, as the defending Gold Cup champion, the Jessica Harrington trained horse clearly knows what it takes to get over the line. Since that win 12 months ago, Sizing John has enjoyed three further outings, initially winning two in a row at Punchestown but a seventh place last time out at Leopardstown in December will doubtless deter some punters.

With the Gold Cup now firmly on the horizon, more developments over runners and riders will follow in the days to come but at this stage, it could well be a battle between three top quality horses with Might Bite the one to beat.



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