Befred Mildmay Novices' Chase
|Grade 1, Aintree 14:50
3m 149y, Class 1
|Friday 7th April 2017
1 Might Bite 8/13F
2 Whisper 9/4
3 Virgilio 14/1
5 ran Distances: 2l, 18l, 44l
Time: 6m 19.70s (slow by 12.70s)
Might Bite on his best behaviour as he defeats stablemate Whisper
The Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite recorded a game success, following up his RSA Chase
victory at last month's Cheltenham Festival.
This was an assured front-running performance from the eight-year-old son of Scorpion
who jumped well throughout the extended three mile contest and kept on resolutely in the closing stages to fend off the sustained challenge of stable companion Whisper
, who finished two lengths behind in second. Dan Skelton's Virgilio was a further 18 lengths back in third.
famously almost threw away victory at the Cheltenham Festival in March, hanging violently to his right after jumping the final fence. However, Seven Barrows maestro Henderson was delighted with the gelding, who jumped with aplomb throughout the G1 contest.
Henderson said: "He was great. His jumping is just so good, he probably hasn't set the fractions quite like he can do.
"These one-twos are horrible in a way because Whisper is another old soldier. He has won two Liverpool Hurdles and, like My Tent Or Yours
, has been around for a long time.
"We are lucky to have them and you have got to let them do it. They certainly made a good race of it.
"Might Bite's jumping was great again today. No funny antics today which was a relief because I was worried about going around that stable bend twice.
"Having done what he did at Cheltenham, you just had to think about it but he was very good there and Nico was at pains not to give him a smack. That was the only change. I said whatever is happening between the last two, don't hit him."
Henderson suggested a tilt at the King George
is a potential target for the gelding. He remarked: "That's him done for the year. I'd think the King George is the obvious place to be thinking about.
"He is good on these tracks but he proved he was good in Cheltenham as well. He can go left, right and he can jump the last properly when he wants to."
Reflecting on Whisper's performance, Henderson continued: "Whisper is doing another thing this year and, rather like the Tent yesterday, you go and beat him with your own horse. But Grade Ones are Grade Ones and there is nowhere else for them to go and they have to take each other on."
Befred Mildmay Novices' Chase (Grade 1)
£100,000 added, 5yo plus, 3m 149y, Class 1
||Might Bite (IRE) 8/13f
||Nico de Boinville
|N J Henderson
||Whisper (FR) 9/4
||D N Russell
|N J Henderson
||Virgilio (FR) 14/1
||Marinero (IRE) 14/1
||B J Cooper
|H de Bromhead
||Calett Mad (FR) 25/1
||D A Jacob
|N A Twiston-Davies
RUSSELL HAPPY WITH WHISPER
Jockey Davy Russell was happy with the performance of Whisper, who finished the two-length runner-up behind 8/13 favourite Might Bite.
"I'm very happy with him - he's jumped super," said the jockey.
"You can't fault him - he was just beaten by a better horse on the day. The winner is a very good horse."
Russell also had news of Saint Are ahead of their bid in the Randox Health Grand National tomorrow afternoon.
"I'm really looking forward to riding him," said the jockey.
"He's just the type you want to ride round here and he obviously knows his way round.
"I'm hoping he'll put in another good spin round here tomorrow."
VIRGILIO GIVING OWNERS FUN
Virgilio bumped into two outstanding horses, but gave his group of owners a fun ride when finishing third and the eight-year-old picked up nearly £9,000 for Messrs Edwards, Futter and Rushworth.
Dave Futter is head of Yorton Farm Stud in Powys, Britain's largest Jumps stallion station, and it was he who bought Virgilio as a three-year-old in France. He said of the Dan Skelton-trained gelding: "I went to Arqana sales five years ago to buy two-year-old stores to bring back to sell a year later, but I couldn't afford them. I saw this horse, and while he didn't sell in the ring I bought him privately.
"I thought what are we going to do with him, so I offered him to three or four trainers who all said no, so I put together a little syndicate and the rest is history - he's taken us to places we never thought we would go. He's been a star.
"He ran at Kempton on Boxing Day, then came home to Yorton for a break, before going back to Dan's. He looks a picture today and he's been third to two superstars in Might Bite and Whisper.
"To be here, at this level, at this meeting is an absolute pleasure. Hopefully he will stay sound and give us a lot more fun in the future."
Virgilio may head back to the country of his birth according to Skelton, who said: "We will consider what we do next but we will go again [this season], and will consider Auteuil over hurdles.
"He ran his heart out; this horse just tries so hard. He was second in the Feltham
[Novices' Chase] but the first to keep going after the melee [when Might Bite fell at the final fence] if that makes sense.
"He unfortunately doesn't have the physical make up of the two in front, but we are super proud of him."