Nicky Henderson is anticipating “a proper race” as Might Bite clashes with his Cheltenham Gold Cup conqueror Native River at Haydock on Saturday.
The duo had the Festival feature between the two of them back in March, with Native River emerging a four-and-a-half-length victor after a thrilling head-to-head.
Might Bite went on to post an impressive success at Aintree and Henderson believes the Merseyside track should suit his charge in the Grade One Betfair Chase.
He said: “He’s never been better – he’s in terrific form – and I don’t see why Haydock won’t suit him.
“You could say three and a quarter miles around Cheltenham isn’t as ideal as an easy three miles, which I think is his perfect scene.
“I thought his Aintree win was his best run last season because he was coming back from a very hard battle at Cheltenham.
“Saturday is obviously a completely different race on different ground, but taking on Native River is what’s good for racing and it will be a proper race – that’s for sure.”
While Native River appears to be Might Bite’s main rival, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai was a 57-length winner of last year’s race – albeit in far more demanding ground than he will encounter on his return.
Jockey Daryl Jacob said: “I’m looking forward to it. He was a very good winner of the last race, when obviously the ground was a lot different to what it will be on Saturday.
“It looks a very good renewal, but my horse is in good form. He was meant to run in the Charlie Hall, but the ground was too quick, so we’re coming straight here and we’ll see what happens.
“He did run well on good ground behind Might Bite at Aintree in the spring. If he can reproduce that sort of performance, he should be there or thereabouts.”
Native River’s trainer Colin Tizzard has a second string to his bow in Thistlecrack, while the five-strong line-up is completed by Clan Des Obeaux, who bids to provide Paul Nicholls with a seventh Betfair Chase success.
The Ditcheat maestro saddled Kauto Star to win the race four times and also struck twice with Silviniaco Conti.
He said: “Clan Des Obeaux is in good form and we can’t wait to run him at Haydock on Saturday. He is an improving young horse, though he does have it all to do in this race.
“He is at the same stage of his career as Kauto Star was when he won his first Betfair Chase.
“He is an improving six-year-old with time on his side. We are looking forward to running him.”