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Nicky Henderson feels big-race favourite Might Bite will have to produce a ‘personal best’ to retain the King George VI Chase crown on Boxing Day.
Might Bite justified the hype last Christmas by winning the Grade One three-miler and would go on to finish a gallant second to Native River in the Cheltenham Gold Cup before signing off with a fine win in the Aintree Bowl.
He was expected to take all the beating on his reappearance in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month but finished in timid fashion behind his rivals. His trainer is forgiving that run on Merseyside, but still aware of the scale of task ahead at Kempton. “Obviously, it didn’t all go to plan at Haydock so I’m just drawing a line through it and focusing on getting him back for this,” said the champion trainer.
“He looks fantastic, but this is a mighty race and so much better than last year and I think it’s fair to say he has to produce a personal best, but I couldn’t be happier with him and he’s there to give it his best shot.”
Former winner Thistlecrack, Haydock hero Bristol De Mai, Cheltenham kingpin Native River (second in the Betfair Chase) and unbeaten chaser Waiting Patiently are among those looking to relieve Might Bite of his King George mantle but Henderson feels Politologue, seeking to give his old rival Paul Nicholls a 10th career success in the race, might be the biggest danger of all.
“I think Politologue will get the trip, in which case he will be very dangerous and Thistlecrack ran very well at Haydock so shouldn’t be discounted either,” he added.
Might Bite is 3.50 favourite to win the King George, while Politologue is 6.00 and 2016 hero Thistlecrack is 7.00.