CHELTENHAM Gold Cup stars Native River and Might Bite have been named among the contenders for the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park.

Gold Cup winner Native River and Nicky Henderson's Might Bite will compete with Bristol De Mai, who won last year's race by 47 lengths, as the jump season gets under way with a flourish.

Trained by Colin Tizzard, Native River ended the 2017/2018 campaign as the leading chaser in Great Britain and Ireland.

Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father Colin, said: "Native River is in really good form. The plan is to run to Haydock in the Betfair Chase and we are really pleased with him.

"He has come back into the yard and he actually looks bigger and stronger than he has ever looked before.

"Native River came back into the yard two weeks after everything else, because he was due to run later than some of our other horses.

"We will run him slightly more this year as injury held us up until the second half of the season with him last time so we could only really focus on the Gold Cup.

"He is not ground dependent and, a bit like a lot of the top-class horses, he can handle any ground.

"If he won the Betfair Chase at Haydock, there is the £1 million bonus and that might tempt us to run him in the King George at Kempton. A spring campaign would be followed with another tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup as his target.

"It was amazing to win the Gold Cup and we are going to try and win another one!

"This season, we can target four or five races, including maybe Aintree or Punchestown if he came out of Cheltenham well.

"Native River didn't win an Irish point-to-point or a bumper. Every time we have run him, he has improved and become a better horse - we don't think he's stopped improving.

"We think there is still more to come, which is exciting."

Though £200,000 in prize money is available on the day, an extra incentive is the chance to win the first leg of the Chase Triple Crown, where any horse that wins the Betfair Chase, the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park in December and the Cheltenham Gold Cup can claim a £1million bonus prize.

The legendary Kauto Star landed the £1m bonus in 2006/7 en route to winning the Betfair Chase four times between 2006 and 2011. The French-bred National Hunt champion was trained by Paul Nicholls who has dominated the race, winning a further two times with Silviniaco Conti, and he'll be hoping for more success this time around.

Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said: "The entries look really strong with Native River and Might Bite renewing rivalry.

"Add last year's winner, Bristol De Mai, Clan Des Obeaux, and the four Irish entries headed by the JLT winner Shattered Love and it all adds up to a vintage renewal for the 14th running of the famous race.

"Last year's winner Bristol De Mai currently heads the betting at 9/4 just ahead of old foes, Might Bite and Native River, who are both 5/2.

"In terms of the Triple Crown, at 20/1, we rate Might Bite as the most likely to emulate Kauto Star and win a £1 million bonus with Native River a 33/1 chance."

More than 12,000 racegoers are expected to attend on Saturday, November 24 as well as celebrities from sport and TV such as Wirral Olympic gold medallist Sam Quek.