BITE GOES DOWN TO THE RIVER
After a three mile and two furlongs of going toe to toe, it took the famous Cheltenham hill to separate Native River and Might Bite, with the latter taking the silver, four and a half-lengths down from the 5/1 winner, in what was an epic contest.
Nicky Henderson, trainer of 4/1 favourite Might Bite, reflected afterwards: "A great race and he has done absolutely nothing wrong. We were taking on a horse who absolutely loves this (soft, heavy in places going) and unfortunately we don't. Might Bite has tried his socks off!
"The one thing you always knew was you had a horse up front that has won a Welsh National and goes round Chepstow in Chepstow heavy ground - something that we would never think about doing.It was just the same there - Might Bite landed in front and then hit that patch of ground. That was as much as he could do.
"This is the wettest Cheltenham we have had for years and he has done everything you could wish for. You could just see that from the last, that is were that worst ground is, on the run-in.
"He went straight there were no quirky moments, he didn't try and come away from the other horse. He did nothing wrong at all. It was just that he was out on his feet. He had jumped beautifully, it never put off his stride and I think Nico was in the right place. Nobody else was ever going to get into the race.
"I am proud of him and everybody. He is a young horse too - that's the great thing. He has actually only had three races and, when you consider his first run was only a canter round at Sandown, and today was his only run since Christmas.
"I wouldn't rule out another run this season, although it would look unlikely when you have had a race like that on this ground. He will tell us - Aintree is a good place for him and on better ground. I wouldn't rule it out, but the King George will be where we want to start next season and hopefully we will be back here for another try.We had to give chase, we were the only two horses who got into the race, you have to say we were in the right place and he has jumped everything. He has enjoyed himself.
"Fair play to them - well done Dicky (Johnson) and Colin (Tizzard). At least we had two English ones here for a change."
Tony Martin, trainer of the third Anibale Fly, a 33/1 chance, said: "I am delighted with him, it is a great result. We are delighted he has come back to show that he is not to bad a horse. At Christmas we were looking forward to this and the Irish Gold Cup (fell) where we thought he had a real live chance.
"It is great to see him bounce back today. It is probably as deep as Cheltenham has seen the ground for some time and we coped. He handled it well and ran a blinder
"There were just two good horses in front. Any day you have a third in the Gold Cup, it can't be bad.
"We will get him home and see how he is - I doubt Aintree, he is only eight years old, we will see what the boys (J P McManus) thinks."
Barry Geragthy, rider of Anibale Fly, added: "My lad ran a great race, he kept going and kept going. The first two just got away from us, but I won the battle of the rest. Tony (Martin) had him in great form, it was a great effort."