188Bet Future Stars Intermediate Chase | Listed | 4yo+ | 3m | RUK
Might Bite, mercurial yet also magnificent in stamping his personality on the staying novice chase division last season, is set to light up Sandown's Sunday jumps card when he launches his senior campaign.
The Cheltenham and Aintree festival winner has the 32Red King George VI Chase as his priority winter target and has been found a winnable warm-up option in which to start his season without having to meet the big guns in the Betfair Chase.
Might Bite announced himself last Christmas when he was in the process of delivering a trouncing to his opponents in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase when he took a crashing fall at the last fence.
He has not made the same mistake since, winning every subsequent start, but again showed a liking for drama when nearly handing a winning advantage to stablemate Whisper by veering dramatically to his right in the RSA Chase before recovering to win by a nose.
He faces three opponents, two from the Paul Nicholls stable, the best of which on ratings Label Des Obeaux is 9lb inferior, although he will be in receipt of 6lb.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "Might Bite is in great form. He's done lots of works and has jumped beautifully.
"This is a good place to start. We're doing this because I don't want to run him in the Betfair Chase. A horse like him doesn't need to be getting bashed out that early.
"At home he doesn't put a foot out of place and hopefully he won't in this race either. We're all looking forward to seeing him race. He's ready to go but this isn't the King George, which is what we are after."
Frodon, three years younger than Might Bite, was one of Paul Nicholls's leading money-spinners last season, winning the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, and is joined by As Du Mee, who won the Grand Sefton Chase last season.
"It's going to be difficult but these are races that need supporting a bit, otherwise it would have been a disappointing race," said Nicholls.
"Both are now hard to place, especially Frodon. It's another run and a chance to get some prize-money and you never know what might happen, but Might Bite will probably beat us even though he might not be at the top of his game yet. After this As Du Mee probably won't run again until the Becher Chase."
Label Des Obeaux won three of his last four starts but was well beaten on his return to action at Chepstow and is being aimed at the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Trainer Alan King said: "He always needs his first run, so I was quite happy with his recent comeback at Chepstow and he’ll come on for that. I’ve been very happy with him.
"He won the big novice chase well at Ayr in April and long-term we might be looking to take him back there for the Scottish National. He’s not a Cheltenham horse – he's never run well there so we’ll avoid Prestbury Park.”