Might Bite JamesStevensMight Bite, Photo by James StevensMight Bite is now the clear bookmakers’ favourite to win the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup, the most prestigious national hunt race in the world, as many of his rivals for the Blue Riband event in March have been ruled out on the contest in recent weeks.

Nicky Henderson’s stable star won the RSA Chase at the Festival in 2017 which meant he ended the campaign as the leading novice in the UK. Since stepping up against more experienced horses in November, the nine-year-old has continued to improve his reputation, while his unbeaten run now stretches to five races.

Might Bite had no problems in his seasonal reappearance at Sandown back in November as he scored by eight lengths in a fantastic round of jumping at the Esher track. A month later, the gelding won the biggest price of his career when he landed the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. The field for the grade one chase included Bristol De Mai, Thistlecrack and Fox Norton but neither of his three rivals were good enough on the day to get near Henderson’s runner.

Unfortunately, the 2016 King George winner Thistlecrack will not take on Might Bite again in the Gold Cup as he has been ruled out for the season. There is no guarantee Fox Norton will feature, either, as he has entries in a number of races at the Festival just like his stablemate Finian’s Oscar, who Oddschecker recently reported has been backed for the Stayer’s Hurdler. Trainer Colin Tizzard looks to have been working on his plans for the meeting for his leading horses and he is leaving his options open for many of them.

If successful in the Gold Cup, Might Bite will provide Henderson with his third winner in the race. His opening victory in the feature of the National Hunt meeting came in 2011 when Long Run got the better of two of the all-time greats in Kauto Star and Denman. Two years later, Bobs Worth justified favouritism in the 3m2f contest and his name to the history books.

Sizing John Racing UKSizing John, Photo by Racing UKMight Bite is likely going to have to overcome the defending champion Sizing John in March as the 2017 winner is on course to return to Cheltenham. It has been a mixed campaign so far for Jessica Harrington’s chaser as he looked back to his best when winning the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown. Just weeks later though, he was very flat when coming home down the field in the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown.

Sizing John has shown the best form of his career since stepping up to the 3m division. Not only was he able to capture the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season, but he also added the Irish Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup in a dominant three months for the Irish raider.

Although the Cheltenham Gold field has broken down in recent weeks, the clash between Might Bite and Sizing John could be one of the best matchups at the meeting so it is sure to be the race most racing fans will be looking forward to the most this year at the Festival, which begins on March 13.