Might Bite looks value to turn over odds-on favourite Native River and make a winning return to action in the 3m 1f Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase on a top class Aintree card this Saturday (14:40).
Trained by Nicky Henderson, this 10-year-old boasts a tremendous strike rate of 40 per cent over the larger obstacles having won seven of his 14 starts.
He developed into the best staying novice chase around in the 2016-17 season.
Might Bite landed the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival by a nose from Whisper, before following up over course and distance in the Mildmay a month later when readily beating the same rival by two lengths.
He went on to score the 2017 King George VI Chase at Kempton, before getting outstayed by Native River when a 3 1/2 lengths runner-up in the 3m 2f Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The son of Scorpion then rounded off the campaign with an impressive seven-length success over Bristol De Mai in the Betway Bowl – again over course and distance.
That demolition job gave connections high hopes of more big race successes, but Might Bite failed to sparkle when well-beaten in all three runs last season.
He was clearly not right, but now has his second start in the Many Clouds Chase after undergoing wind surgery and a fine record fresh.
Might Bite is also a flat track bully, unbeaten here and joint-top rated in the four-runner line-up with Native River.
He could well have too much speed for Colin Tizzard’s out-and-out stayer at a venue which clearly brings out the best in him.
So, at 5/2 with SportNation, Might Bite looks worth siding with to gallop his rivals into submission in the Many Clouds Chase.
Sammy Bill fancied to follow-up on Many Clouds Chase day
Sammy Bill won doing cartwheels on debut over the larger obstacles, so is taken to defy a hike in the weights and follow-up in the 2m 4f Virgin Bet Handicap Chase (12:30).
This six-year-old ran well when runner-up in his sole start in an Irish point and shaped with promise in three spins over hurdles last season after joining Oliver Sherwood.
In the first of those at Exeter, he only weakened approaching the last when finishing a
17 1/2 lengths fifth of 16 to Chambard.
Sammy Bill then came third at Huntingdon, before finishing a staying on, never nearer 15-length fifth of 15 to the 134-rated Elusive Belle at Warwick in what looked a hot novice hurdle contest.
The strapping son of Black Sam Bellamy appealed at the type to come into his own when sent chasing, and that view was confirmed in no uncertain fashion on his debut over fences at Kempton last month.
After being badly hampered at the first, Sammy Bill was held up well off the pace until cutting through the field like a knife through butter to take up the running following the fourth last.
He was pulling double at that stage and, when Leighton Aspell let out an inch of rein two from home, stretched effortlessly clear to score easing down by 11 lengths from previous winner Celtic Joy.
Sammy Bill made a total mockery of his opening handicap chase mark of 110, so not surprisingly the assessor has reacted and put him up a whopping 14lb.
However, he has bags of potential and such was the manner of that success it may well not be enough to stop him going in again.
At 3/1 with BetVictor, Sammy Bill is thus a strong fancy in the run-up to the Many Clouds Chase.
Coeur De Lion weighted to strike for King
In the 2m 4f Virgin Bet Handicap Hurdle (13:00), Coeur De Lion looks on a handy mark and makes plenty of appeal at 6/1 with Coral.
This Alan King trained six-year-old is a smart dual purpose performer who impressively landed the valuable 2m Chester Plate on the level by five lengths back in May.
Coeur De Lion now makes a belated return to hurdling for the first time since the 2016-17 season which saw him successful on two occasions.
In the second of those at Sandown, he dug deep to beat the smart Rather Be, who went on to land a valuable handicap hurdle at the Grand National Festival here off a mark of 136, by a head
Prior to that, Coeur De Lion has posted some solid efforts in defeat – including when a 1 3/4 lengths runner-up to subsequent Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil.
He was also far from disgraced in that Cheltenham Festival contest, finishing a 10 3/4 lengths seventh of 15 to Philip Hobbs’ charge.
Coeur De Lion’s subsequent two runs in hot handicaps came off marks off 144 and 142, and he is now able to race off a reduced rating of just 137.
It makes him a massive player at the weights on the pick of his form, especially if taking into account the 7lb claim of amateur rider Max Brown.
This also doesn’t look a strong class 2 contest for the grade, so everything suggests this is an excellent opening for Coeur De Lion to bag a third success over hurdles.