horse racing

NTF Festival Files: Paul Nicholls – How to profit from the Champion Trainer at the Festival…

17 days to go….

Hopefully you will have had time to digest my Ruby Walsh Festival post as today we move swiftly on the the most successful trainer of the past 6 seasons; Mr Paul Nicholls…

#Figures sourced from the excellent Proform database – Figures from the 2007 – 2012 Festivals


NTF Festival Files: Paul Nicholls

The bare figures…

19/192 | 10% S/R | -£65.29 BFLSP – Win & Place 47/192 | 24% S/R

The simple facts are the Ditcheat trainer is, based on number of winners saddled, the most successful trainer at the past 6 Cheltenham Festivals. He has saddled 4 more winners than his nearest rivals Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson and 9 more than the next on the list Jonjo O’Neill. However, backing everything the champion trainer has saddled will have left you with a massive hole in your punting wallet; -£65.29 to level stakes to be precise! He is, after all, the champion National Hunt trainer and similar to Ruby Walsh his horses fall into the ‘over-bet’ category.

But what are the Nicholls strong points, where are his weak areas and can we zone in on profitable angles?

Let’s start digging…


The market tells us all we need to know about the Nicholls horses…

18 of Paul Nicholls 19 Festival winners have started in the top 4 of the market. A simple and unsurprising fact I’m sure you will agree.

Lets look at his runners in 2 groups….

Paul Nicholls runners in the top 4 of the market – 18/88 | 20% S/R | +£17.05 BFLSP – Win & Place 35/88 | 40% S/R

Paul Nicholls runners outside the top 4 of the market – 1/104 | 1% S/R | -£82.82 BFLSP – Win & Place 12/104 | 12% S/R

Yowza!! The Nicholls runners that start outside of the top 4 taking a hefty beating! Interestingly they are, based on market expectations, every so slightly under-performing whereas the runners in the top 4 of the market are marginally over-performing; so there is merit in looking at these 2 groups.

In theory I could stop there…but what would be the fun in that!


Nicholls runners that failed to fire LTO have been struggling at the Festival…

Clearly it is preferable to come into the Cheltenham Festival off the back of a solid run and it is no different when it comes to the Champion Trainer either. Take a look at the record of his runners that failed to finish in the top 3 on their last start before Cheltenham…

Paul Nicholls runners that finished 4th or worse LTO – 1/56 | 2% S/R | -£34.82 BFLSP – Win & Place 10/56 | 18% S/R

A top 2 finish LTO is probably preferable for the Nicholls horses as even looking at 3rd or worse LTO isn’t much better…

Paul Nicholls runners that finished 3rd or worse LTO – 2/79 | 3% S/R | -£41.73 BFLSP – Win & Place 14/79 | 18% S/R

There are always exceptions to every ‘rule’ but the above set of figures are certainly worthy of keeping in mind…


It pays to concentrate on Nicholls well fancied hurdlers…

If we stay with the top 4 in the market theme then we see it is his hurdlers that return us the juiciest of fruits…

P Nicholls Festival Bumper record (top 4 in market) – 0/1 | 0% S/R | -£1.00 BFLSP – Win & Place 1/1 | 100% S/R

P Nicholls Festival Hurdle record (top 4 in market) – 9/29 | 31% S/R | +£26.36 BFLSP – Win & Place 15/29 | 52% S/R

P Nicholls Festival Chase record (top 4 in market) – 9/58 | 16% S/R | -£8.31 BFLSP – Win & Place 19/58 | 33% S/R

Nicholls sends a vast array of ‘fancied’ chasers to the festival but of recent they have been slightly under-performing (again based on market expectation). His hurdlers, on the other hand, are a slightly more select bunch and win more often than the market gives them credit for. Granted that hurdle figure does include 4 Big Bucks wins but he wasn’t favourite for the first of those victories and the figures are still, in my opinion, relevant. Also if we take the figures back a couple of years (before the Big Bucks monopoly) then we can increase the BFLSP figure and keep the strike-rates similar; in other words the angle isn’t solely a new one based on the back of one horse.


Paul Nicholls – Cheltenham Festival: The Money Shot!

The Nicholls string is not one I want to get too bogged down with in all honesty and sometimes a few simple angles are the best way to go about it. So with that in mind it’s on to the Money Shot!

Taking all of my in-depth Proform searching into account I’ve come up with the following Nicholls ‘Money Shot’…

Cheltenham Festival | Paul Nicholls | Top 4 in the market | Hurdles | 1st or 2nd LTO

9/23 | 39% S/R | +£32.26 BFLSP – Win & Place 15/23 | 65% S/R

A simple yet effective ‘Money-Shot’ and 1 that has proven profitable in 5 of the last 6 seasons.


Jonjo at the Festival…

Earlier this week I actually did a guest ‘Festival Files’ post for the Make Your Betting Pay Blog. It takes the same format as my other Festival Files posts and looks at the record of Jonjo O’Neill. If you have enjoyed this post and my Ruby Walsh post then I guarantee that you will also enjoy my Jonjo Festival File.

And yes, there is a ‘Money-Shot’ in that post as well!

Take a gander at my Jonjo O’Neill NTF Festival File >>>


*Figures for this article have been sourced from the brilliant Proform Professional Database.

Check out their website >>


2013 NTF Cheltenham Festival Service…

To secure a place on the 2013 NTF Cheltenham Festival service sign up to the FREE NTF list using the form below or the form at the top of the page. There are also a large selection of FREE guides for you to enjoy until the March showpiece…

2 responses to “NTF Festival Files: Paul Nicholls – How to profit from the Champion Trainer at the Festival…”

  1. I find your analyses interesting. I think they would be enhanced by publishing the A/E ratio of the data and even a chi squared percentage so we can judge for ourselves how significant the statistics really are. I doubt very much, for instance, that your example above of Nicholls outside the front 4 has any real statistical significance.

    • Hi Denis and thanks for your comment

      I do look at the A/E and CHI sq figures although probably not something I will publish on here. Majority of punters not interested in that side of things (whether that be right or wrong) and just want the figures. The outside top 4 angle is marginally underperforming based on market expectations although I haven’t put it up here as a system type angle to follow blindly (which CHI score is good for). Basically highlighting the fact that Nicholls has plenty of these runners, they don’t win that often and punters should be wary of backing them. Plenty of punters back horses that are not ‘expected’ to win based on the market assumption (which isn’t a bad thing at all) and there are plenty of angles where that would prove profitable, this particular angle is not one of them.

      Essentially I’m highlighting it to say ‘be wary’ rather than ‘lay all of these qualifiers’.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

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