By Racinguk.com staff
Nico de Boinville says he feels "proud" of Might Bite's display in Friday's Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup despite coming up short against Native River.
Victory for Might Bite would have seen Nicky Henderson create history as the first man to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup in the same season, but the trainer was forced to settle for just two of the big three.
Might Bite lost little in defeat, however, and his rider - speaking on Luck On Sunday - felt he had just bumped into a rival better suited by the soft ground.
"It rode like a terrific race. Dicky (Richard Johnson) visibly quickened the pace going out onto the second circuit and everything went to plan," said De Boinville.
"Everything went how I envisaged it would apart from when we just tied up after the last.
"Native River really toughed it out. We were on the same stride going to the last so we had the momentum to fly up the hill, but that ground from the last to the line was very difficult. It was the worst of the ground and we felt every bit of it."
He added: "I always felt riding it that it was a two horse race and that my main danger was in my sights.
"They are both classy animals and I'd like to think that on better ground we'd have got a lot closer, but it was a great performance from both of them.
"I was very proud of how he (Might Bite) went through the race. When you sit back and take time to reflect you realise how well he has done, but at the same time it's gutting to come so close.
"He's young enough to have another go but to get so close is hard to take."
Nick Luck asked De Boinville whether he felt any sense of injustice over the fact that he had ridden within the whip rules, whereas Johnson had received a seven-day suspension along with a hefty fine for his use of the whip. His answer could not have been clearer.De Boinville salutes the crowd after Altior's triumph (PA)
"I have ridden within the rules because I had nothing left underneath me, so I've ridden according to my horse," he said. "Native River was clearly still responding but Dicky wasn't to know how far I had emptied. I think the fine was harsh and I think the amount of days he got was harsh. It didn't look offensive to the eye and it's the Gold Cup."
De Boinville could at least reflect on riding Altior to victory in the the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday, but even that was not without alarm.
He said: "The race didn't quite go according to plan. He didn't travel as well as I hoped, or as he would have done on better ground.
"Even turning into the straight I needed a gap to appear but as soon as I switched him out wide he took off.
"His work is similar to that at home but that's the first time he's run like that in a race. We're very lucky to have a horse like him so soon after Sprinter Sacre."