GBI RACING

Nicky Henderson proud of Might Bite in gallant Gold Cup defeat

Might Bite can't quite get to grips with Native River Nicky Henderson feels Might Bite enhanced his reputation despite coming off second best to Native River in a thrilling Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Victory for the King George winner would have created history for Henderson, who had already won the Champion Hurdle with Buveur D'Air and Champion Chase with Altior this week.
Having tracked Colin Tizzard's Native River all through the race, turning into the straight Nico de Boinville still looked poised to pounce, but three and a quarter miles in stamina-sapping ground took its toll and he went down by four and a half lengths.
Might Bite has been known for being a bit wayward, having won last season's RSA in dramatic style after hanging dramatically to his right, but there was no sign of that this time.
"Briefly I thought he was going to do it, because he can quicken, but the worst ground on the course is after the last," said a proud-as-punch Henderson of his 4-1 favourite.
"He never looked like going right today, he put his head down and fought all the way. You can't say he tried to shirk it today because he had every right to say 'blow this for a game of soldiers, I'm off back' but he never flinched.
"His jumping was great, it was the right thing to track Native River because no other horse got into the race, he had to be in the right place.
"I think on better ground stamina wouldn't have been an issue, but in that ground you have to work so much harder. The winner is a Welsh National winner and the reason I've never won that race is because I can't find horses that go in that ground.
"I think he's gone up in many people's expectations for getting beaten today. Second is always a difficult place to finish, but we've had our luck over the years and you have to accept it. I'm still proud of him.
"We've still had a great week, but it's a pity it's had to be run on ground like this because it changes things.
"It's great for Colin and great for Dicky (Richard Johnson). It was a great race and just nice to see a British one-two after this week!"
He went on: "We're proud of him, his jumping was fantastic.
"I'm not sure about Aintree, he's had a hard race there but there is four weeks between the two this year, he did it last year on three and he's had only two real races this season. We'll let him tell us.
"Aintree could be different this year as I could see the Irish horses staying for Punchestown. If it was good ground I'd be quite happy to take the winner on again."
Tony Martin's Anibale Fly outran his 33-1 odds in being beaten just over eight lengths into third.
Martin said: "We're all delighted with him. He ran a lovely race at Christmas and we thought he was definitely a horse with a chance for the Irish Gold Cup and here. Unfortunately he was a bit disappointing last time, but he's bounced back and run a blinder, and any day you're third in the Gold Cup is a good run.
"I'd say he's come across two good ones today, but he's run a blinder.
"He's my only runner in Cheltenham this year."
His jockey Barry Geraghty said: "He ran a great race and was entitled to run well, he travelled well and Tony had him in great shape."
Road To Respect was fourth for Noel Meade, who said: "He's run well, he probably didn't jump as slick as he usually does, but that might have been down to the ground. He missed the third-last and that could have knocked the stuffing out of him.
"He's only seven and better ground would help. It's too early to say definitely Punchestown, but if he's well he might."
He was ridden by Sean Flanagan, who said: "He's jumped OK, but I think the ground took the sting out of it a bit. He's seven, on normal Cheltenham ground he'll be a big player next year."

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