Paul Nicholls: champion trainer has his squad in stunning form
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Tom Kerr 6:16PM 21 OCT 2016
PAUL NICHOLLS saddled another three winners on Friday as his awesome October continued at Cheltenham.
The hat-trick took Nicholls’ October tally to 24 and his seasonal total to 50 winners with a strike-rate of 35 per cent.
El Bandit, Marracudja and Cliffs Of Dover were the winning three for Nicholls on Friday and also prompted some of the season’s first Cheltenham prize updates, with Marracudja added to the Racing Post Arkle market at 33-1 by BetVictor, although Nicholls said the festival contest would not be on the horse’s agenda.
The champion trainer has made a stunning start to the 2016-17 season after narrowly defeating Willie Mullins to claim his tenth title back in April.
From May to August, traditionally quiet months for the Ditcheat operation, Nicholls sent out 22 winners but that was only the warm-up act before the season, and the yard, properly kicked into gear as summer gave way to autumn.
In September Nicholls sent out eight runners, only three of which failed to hit the target, while in October he has a strike rate a fraction short of 50 per cent, having posted 24 winners from 49 runners.
Nicholls’ assistant Harry Derham tweeted his congratulations following Friday’s treble: “Massive well done to @PFNicholls and the whole team for reaching 50 winners already this season, huge effort from everyone involved.”
Nicholls looks almost certain to eclipse his highest monthly total for winners in the last five years – 28 in November 2014, although to put in context the sort of form the yard currently is in that tally was achieved from 90 runners.
He could better November 2014 as soon as Saturday, when he has two runners at Kelso and four at Cheltenham, including Grade 1 winner Adrien Du Pont who goes in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at 3pm.
Nicholls is no bigger than 1-3 with bet365 to win his 11th trainers’ title.