Champion trainer Paul Nicholls checking feed at his stable after Frodon and Greaneteen added to his recent high-profile disappointments
- Paul Nicholls has vowed to ‘crack on’ after a recent slump in form
- A strike rate this season of 23 per cent has dropped to only five per cent
- Trainer sees no reason to change running plans for some of his best horses
Paul Nicholls says he sees no reason to change running plans for some of his best horses at Newbury on Saturday as he searches for reasons for a slump in form at his stable.
The champion trainer has entered Clan Des Obeaux for the Denman Chase, Hitman for the Game Spirit Chase, Knappers Hill in the Betfair Hurdle and his leading Cheltenham contender Bravemansgame will have his Festival prep in the novices’ handicap chase.
But Nicholls will have no runners until at least Thursday as he tries to find out why a strike rate this season of 23 per cent has dropped to only five per cent in the last fortnight with just two winners from his last 40 runners.
Paul Nicholls says he sees no reason to change running plans for some of his best horses
Those running disappointingly over the weekend included Dublin Racing Festival challengers Frodon and Greaneteen.
Current investigations are focusing on feed after Nicholls recalled that a similar quiet spell for the stable in January 2016 was down to low potassium and calcium content in the hay.
Nicholls started adding those minerals to his horses’ feed on Sunday to make up for any potential deficiency.
Nicholls said: ‘If a good reason not to run them showed up, I wouldn’t even entertain it. We are guessing what it is and already covering our tracks and waiting for tests to come back.
The champion trainer has entered Clan Des Obeaux for the Denman Chase on Saturday
‘If you saw the horses you wouldn’t know there was a problem. If they are sick with a cough or snotty nose you know where you are and you draw stumps but this is just like it was in 2016.
‘If we can’t find anything and they look OK, I am always minded to run them. We won’t turn the corner by ducking the issue. I think it will be a short-term problem and you just have to be positive and crack on.’
The results of the tests will also determine whether Nicholls runs another of his leading lights, Challow Hurdle winner Stage Star, at Huntingdon on Thursday or Exeter on Sunday. He may also send him directly to Cheltenham.
BRIAN HUGHES, on course to regain his champion jump jockey title, set a new personal best for a season when a double at Carlisle on Skyhill and Mackenberg took him to 148 wins for the season.