Nicholls is puzzled by poor stable form

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls insists he will “crack on” as he battles to come through a rare dry spell since the turn of the year. Nicholls has suffered some high-profile disappointments in recent weeks and his usually impressive strike-rate is down at just five per cent for the last fortnight.

Frodon and Greaneteen failed to give their true running in Ireland at the weekend while Pic D’Orhy also disappointed in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.

Nicholls says until test results tell him something is definitely wrong with his horses, all he can do is run them when they are giving him the right signs at home ahead of another big weekend coming up at Newbury.

“What is the right thing and what is the wrong thing to do? If I had a good reason not to run them, if they showed they weren’t right, we wouldn’t entertain running them,” said Nicholls.

“I asked Scott Marshall this morning, who rides both Clan Des Obeaux and Bravemansgame, what they felt like and he said they were in great order, they worked brilliant on Saturday.

Nicholls suffered a similar dry spell in the 2015/16 season, when he discovered potassium and calcium levels in a batch of hay he was using had dropped.

“We had a problem in January in 2015/16 and it turned out to be the hay. The longer you leave haylage, the mineral levels drop down. Back then we put them on potassium and calcium supplements and we’ve already put them on that now as we are suspicious,” he said.

“We’re just guessing that’s what it is. We’re waiting for the tests to come back, but we are already covering our tracks.

“You wouldn’t know there was a problem looking at them. When they are sick or have a cough you know where you are and you draw stumps, but this is like it was a few years ago.

“I think it’s a short-term thing. You can overthink things and I think you can put a line through a few of them for one or two different reasons, but there’s one or two that you can’t.

“I think you’ve just got to be positive and crack on until you know otherwise.”

Reflecting on Nicholls’ poor run, stable jockey Cobden said: “Normally we have a quiet January anyway, but it’s not normally this bad. At least it’s happening now instead of March or April. It’s not the worst thing in the world.

“They’ve done tests on the feed, water, bloods and probably the kitchen sink. The horses don’t look sick so at least we know there’s nothing major wrong with them.

“Every yard has a quiet patch at some stage throughout the season. It’s probably a little more disappointing now because, although we hadn’t had loads of runners before January, they were all working on 28 or 29 per cent strike rate and running well.

“Now we’ve had a bit of a luckless run but it’ll come right. Fingers crossed on Saturday it will all come right and the last five weeks will all be in the past.” -extracts, Sky Sports.

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