Native River and Might Bite set for rematch in Betfair Chase

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Wed 7 Nov 2018

Native River and Might Bite are on course for an eagerly awaited rematch in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 24.

The first Grade One race of the season promises to be a vintage edition with course specialist Bristol De Mai, who was last year's runaway winner, and Thistlecrack, the 2016 King George victor, also set to line up.

Natve River and Might Bite, both quoted at 5-2 by the race sponsor, fought out an enthralling Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March, the former proving the stronger in the closing stages on the testing ground and winning by four-and-a-half lengths.

Joe Tizzard, assistant trainer to his father, Colin, said on Wednesday that a "bigger and stronger" Native River is on target to run at Haydock.

Watch Native River and Might Bite in their epic Gold Cup clash. The pair are each quoted at 5-2 for the Betfair Chase

And Nicky Henderson, the trainer of Might Bite, says his staying star will return in the feature en route to defending his crown in the 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

"Our intention is to be more ambitious and go to Haydock to start with, unless it was similar ground to last year, that would make us think again but then you have got to think where you can go?" Henderson told Unibet.

"You can’t run in a graduation this time so if you think about it, he probably has got to go to Haydock.”

The Betfair Chase carries prize money of £200,000 and, as an additional lure, is the first leg in The Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown, which carries a £1 million bonus. The other two legs are the King George and Gold Cup.

Native River ended the 2017/2018 campaign as the leading chaser in Great Britain and Ireland, with an official rating of 176 following his tenacious Gold Cup triumph.

The eight-year-old was restricted to just two appearances last term but connections are keen to race him more regularly this term.

 Might Bite and Native River jump together in the Gold Cup (Racingfotos)
Might Bite and Native River jump together in the Gold Cup (Racingfotos)

Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father Colin, said on Wednesday afternoon: "Native River is in really good form. The plan is to run to Haydock in the Betfair Chase and we are really pleased with him.

"He has come back into the yard and he actually looks bigger and stronger than he has ever looked before.

"Native River came back into the yard two weeks after everything else, because he was due to run later than some of our other horses."

He added: "We will run him slightly more this year as injury held us up until the second half of the season with him last time so we could only really focus on the Gold Cup.

"He is not ground dependent and, a bit like a lot of the top-class horses, he can handle any ground.

"If he won the Betfair Chase at Haydock, there is the £1-million bonus and that might tempt us to run him in the King George at Kempton. A spring campaign would be followed with another tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup as his target.

"It was amazing to win the Gold Cup and we are going to try and win another one. This season, we can target four or five races, including maybe Aintree or Punchestown if he came out of Cheltenham well.

How good was Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase last year?

"Native River didn't win an Irish point-to-point or a bumper. Every time we have run him, he has improved and become a better horse - we don't think he's stopped improving.

"We think there is still more to come, which is exciting."

Tizzard has also entered his 2016 King George winner Thistlecrack, who has a host of options including the Ladbrokes Trophy and BetVictor Gold Cup.

On his most recent outing in last year’s King George, though, he was a respectable fourth behind Might Bite, beaten less than six lengths.

“He’s fit and well, and we will probably go to Haydock,” Tizzard told the Daily Mirror. “We’ve entered him in some handicaps, but that is to cover all bases in case the ground stops us.

“He doesn’t need it heavy – as long as it’s softer than good.”

Bristol De Mai, chalked up as 9-4 favourite, struggled to replicate his stunning performance in winning the Betfair Chase 12 months ago. He was scheduled to return in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last Saturday, but missed the race because of the fast ground.

Paul Nicholls has entered Politologue, Black Corton and Clan Des Obeaux – with Harry Fry’s American and Ms Parfois in the mix too.

Noel Meade’s Disko and the Gordon Elliott trio of Outlander, Don Poli and Shattered Love make up the Irish challenge. All four are owned by Gigginstown House Stud.

David Pipe’s Un Temps Pour Tout completes the list.

Betfair Chase - Betfair prices: 9-4 Bristol De Mai; 5-2 Might Bite, Native River; 12-1 Politilogue; 14-1 Shattered Love; 16-1 Thistlecrack, Clan Des Obeaux; 25-1 Disko, Don Poli; 33-1 American, Ms Parfois, Black Corton, Un Temps Pour Tout; 50-1 Outlander.

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