Paul Nicholls - Racehorse Trainer in Detail

Trainer in Focus – Paul Nicholls


Paul Nicholls has been THE jumps trainer of the last 10 years. The Ditcheat handler has looked after superstars such as Kauto Star, Denman, Big Bucks and Master Minded, and has won countless Grade One contests with the aforementioned runners, as well as with a number of other high class recruits. In this article we take a look at how Nicholls’ runners perform under a variety of conditions.


Juvenile, Novice and Maiden Hurdlers

Nicholls’ horses making their debut over timber who have had previous racecourse experience, be it in bumpers or on the flat are 48/225 (21.33%) for a loss of £-49.55, giving an A/E of 0.88. Interestingly, his runners who have not seen the track in any shape or form before, do better; 54/189 (28.57%) for £9.62 LSP, giving an A/E of 1.03

Handicap Hurdlers

Handicap Hurdlers by Month


*A/E denotes actual number of winners divided by expected number of winners. A figure over 1 represents good value, anything under 1 is poor value.

Nicholls definitely does better at the start of the calendar year with his handicap hurdlers. His runners produce an A/E of over 1 in five of the first six months of the year. Conversely, his horses produce an A/E of over 1 in just one of the last six months of the year.

Handicap Hurdlers by Course

handi hurd

Nicholls does well at a number of courses, including top courses such as Sandown and Cheltenham. He doesn’t really do poorly anywhere apart from Aintree, where his record is just 1/53. A large portion of those handicap hurdlers are going to Aintree on the back of running at Cheltenham, and many have struggled after having hard races at Prestbury Park.


Novice Chasers

Novice Chasers by Month


Nicholls’ runners at the start of the jumps season do very well in novice chases (October-December); 126/335 (37.61%) for £9.42 LSP, giving an A/E of 1.15. Once the year turns, they become much less profitable (January-March); 73/262 (27.86%) for a loss of £-82.10, giving an A/E of 0.89

Handicap Chasers by Month

handi chas

It appears that Nicholls handicap returners have a modest record in September and October when the jumps season gets underway. They improve significantly in November and December, producing higher strike rate and A/E’s over 1.0. After the turn of the year however, his handicap chasers tend to perform lower than market expectations. Overall, they don’t provide great value.

Handicap Chasers by Course

handi course

Paul Nicholls’ record at Newbury with his chasers is very impressive, especially considering that the Berkshire venue is one of the premier jumps courses and attracts a high calibre of opposition. He clearly doesn’t send his good ones to Market Rasen.

Last Time Out Winners

When Nicholls has a last time out winner in a handicap chase, their success really depends upon the number of days off the track, and market position. Horses who are returning within 21 days are:

  • 20/75 (26.67%) for a loss of £-9.64, giving an A/E of 1.14

Breaking that down further, if the horses are fancied in the market (1st or 2nd favourite), they are 20/52 (38.46%) for £13.36 LSP, producing an A/E of 1.32. Third favourite or lower in the betting, and they are 0/23.

Nicholls last time out winners off for more than 3 weeks have a poor record; 16/160 (10%) for loss of £-82.30, giving an A/E of 0.62. When outside the first two in the market, they are just 1/71 (1.41%) for a loss of £-60, for an A/E of 0.17

National Hunt Flat

Bumper Debutants by Month


Nicholls underperforms from December to March, but then does particularly well in April and May. His record towards the end of the jumps season with his bumper debutants is 18/54 (33.33%) for £5.78 LSP, giving an A/E of 1.38. He doesn’t have many runners through the summer.

NHF Debutants by Course


Day Of The Week

Commentators and pundits alike always make reference to the fact that Nicholls is the king of Saturdays. Is this backed up by the stats?

Hurdlers and Chasers by Weekday


In a word, yes. Nicholls has comfortably the most number of runners on Saturday’s and although his strike rate is lowest (this can be expected as racing is more competitive on Saturday), the A/E produced by his runners is comfortably the highest. He really does prime his runners for the big races on racings biggest day of the week.


  • Nicholls juvenile, novice and maiden hurdlers do best on debut when they have not been to the racetrack before (in a flat or bumper contest)
  • His handicap hurdlers do best in the first 6 months of the year.
  • Nicholls handicap hurdlers should be respected at Sandown and Cheltenham. He does poorly at Aintree.
  • He has a great record in novice chases in October-December. His runners’ performances tail off after that.
  • November and December are the time to catch Nicholls handicap chasers. They don’t have a great record throughout most of the rest of the year however.
  • He does do especially well with handicap chasers at Newbury, but hasn’t had a winner at Market Rasen.
  • The performance of handicap chasers who won last time out depends on how long they are off the track, and their market position. Those runners returning within 3 weeks who are 1st or 2nd favourite have a great record. If they are not fancied, they do very poorly and runners off for more than 3 weeks have a moderate record.
  • Nicholls is prolific with bumper debutants in April and May.
  • The Ditcheat handler targets the big races on Saturday, and produces the best value with his runners on racing’s biggest day of the week.

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