Nicky Henderson hopes Might Bite can make a timely return to form by going one better than 12 months ago in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
In two runs this season, the 10-year-old has looked a shadow of the horse that chased home Native River in the blue riband, finishing last on his return in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November before coming up short in his bid for a second King George VI Chase at Kempton the following month.
Henderson said: “Yes, it has been disappointing and at Kempton he wasn’t in it from a long way out.
“He has lacked his rhythm and his jumping hasn’t been with the fluidity it usually is, and that is what we are hoping is going to come back.
“We’ve re-cauterised his palate. Two years ago he had a hobday and when you do that you do a soft palate with it.
“The hobday is perfectly all right and you can’t redo it, but the soft palate part very often needs to be redone.
“We hadn’t heard any noises, but it probably just helps tighten it up. We’ve done a few other things and freshened him up.
“I’m certainly not confident, but I’m hopeful (off a return to form).”
The dual Grade One winner is as big as 20-1 for the Gold Cup, but his trainer has been encouraged of late.
Henderson said: “The horse that was in great form last weekend was Might Bite who I am glad to say is in really good shape. If you don’t believe it, you don’t have to.
“Nico (de Boinville) rode him on Saturday and thought he was in terrific form.
“On what he has done this year, he is entitled to be the price he is. He doesn’t know what price he is and nor do I care.
“We’ve got to get there the best we can but I have to say I’m thrilled with what I saw on Saturday.”
Henderson could be double-handed in the Ryanair Chase, which he last won in 2012 with Riverside Theatre, after earmarking the race for both Top Notch and Terrefort.
He added: “Top Notch will go for the Ryanair, but Terrefort I don’t know. The Gold Cup is probably not the right place and he could come into the Ryanair.
“It is a pity Top Notch couldn’t run at Ascot, as that is where he was meant to be, but that was Cyrname’s race and he was impressive.
“I’m the first to admit he (Top Notch) is lovely and everyone adores him, but he is probably 5lb short of a Grade One horse.
“He is on the radar and he would have to be on the shortlist of horses we are looking forward to.”