Native River v Might Bite: Haydock head-to-head for Betfair Chase

Native River v Might Bite

Arch rivals Native River and Might Bite set off on the trail of a £1m bonus when they face each other again on Saturday.

The pair fought out a thrilling Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, and go head-to-head in the Betfair Chase at Haydock (15:00 GMT, coverage on BBC Radio 5 live).

Native River prevailed eight months ago, and this time talented stablemate Thistlecrack is among his opponents.

Any horse who wins the race and goes onto claim the King George VI Chase and Gold Cup this season will claim the £1m Jockey Club Triple Crown.

Here we look at the two favourites - Might Bite, who is 12-1 with the race sponsors to complete the treble and Native River (33-1).

Might Bite and Native River in the Cheltenham Gold Cup
Might Bite and Native River had an absorbing duel in the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Owners

Native River: Retired farmers Garth and Anne Broom (Brocade Racing).

Might Bite: The Knot Again Partnership organised by Kent County Cricket Club chairman Simon Philip.

Name

Native River: Father was called Indian River and mother Native Mo

Might Bite: Mum Knotted Midge is herself named after a fishing fly employed in the hope that trout 'might bite'.

Form

Native River: Winner of 11 out of 21 races including the Cheltenham Gold Cup (2018), Hennessy Gold Cup, Newbury (2016) and Welsh Grand National, Chepstow (2016).

Might Bite: Successful in 10 races from 16 starts including the King George at Kempton (2017), RSA Chase, Cheltenham (2017) and Bowl Chase, Aintree (2018)

Colin Tizzard
'He's has tough as they come but has plenty of class' - Colin Tizzard on Native River

The course

Native River: His first visit to Haydock, and the feeling is that softer ground conditions and a more demanding track might suit even better.

Might Bite: A Haydock debutant too; although twice a winner at Cheltenham - and a close second behind Native River in the Gold Cup - perceived wisdom is that the flatter track and the anticipated good to soft going will play to his strengths

Jockey form

Native River: Three-time champion jumps jockey Richard Johnson is 'flying', holding a decisive lead in the season's title race.

Might Bite: Nico de Boinville is back in the nick of time after nursing a thumb injury which kept him out of action for three weeks.

The trainer

Native River: Colin Tizzard has won the race (inaugurated 2005) three times, with the now-retired star Cue Card (2013, 2015-16).

Might Bite: This is a rare Grade One-race gap in the glittering CV of champion trainer Nicky Henderson though he's been second twice with Long Run.

Nicky Henderson on Might Bite
'Might Bite is getting into the Sprinter Sacre mould' - Nicky Henderson on Might Bite

What they say

Native River: "He's been give this brand as a slugger - don't get me wrong, he's as tough as they come with a very high cruising speed that he can keep up, but he's got plenty of class too, and I don't think he's ground dependent" - assistant trainer Joe Tizzard.

Might Bite: "Might Bite is in great shape - he couldn't be better, and his work has been extremely good. He's getting into the Sprinter Sacre mould of quality and class. The distance [nearly three and a quarter miles] on the track and on the ground looks just right" - Nicky Henderson.

Highs and lows

Native River

High: Leading pretty much the whole way to get the better of a thrilling duel with Might Bite in the Gold Cup.

Low: Twice defeated at the Cheltenham Festival when fancied, in the National Hunt Chase (2nd, 2016) and the in the Gold Cup when third a year before winning.

Might Bite

High - It's a photo finish between success at Aintree a month after his Gold Cup exertions, and victory in the RSA Chase despite wandering alarmingly across the track late on.

Low - Falling at the last fence when sure to win the Kauto Star Novices Chase, Kempton (2016) in brilliant style.

Any other business?

Native River: Amongst his opponents is another high-profile Tizzard runner, Thistlecrack, looking for his first win since the 2016 King George.

Might Bite: He's due to meet again Bristol De Mai (the 2017 Haydock winner) whom he swept aside at Aintree in April.

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