Clear, concise, comprehensive horseracing analysis and insight from Paul Jones, former author of the Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide, concentrating on jump racing in addition to the best of the Flat and leading Sports events.
  • Paul’s October Blog uploaded - NH Season Leading 20 Handicaps Big Race Trends uploaded - The Jumps Season Service 2023/24 will commence on Friday, October 27th.

Nicholls' New Headgear Angle Works Again


A big week ahead with Royal Ascot, the US Open golf and the European Football Championships taking place. As such there will be no Horses to Follow or Ante Post Focus this week to help me keep on top of it all but next week I’ll mainly be listing runners to catch my eye from the five-day meeting in a longer edition.

Royal Ascot previews will be uploaded by 6.00 p.m. the evening before racing in the Royal Ascot section rather than Race Previews, the US Open preview will be uploaded on Tuesday morning at the latest (maybe Monday evening) where I’m very keen on a 40/1 shot as highlighted in the quarterly newsletter and the second round of group matches for Euro 2016 preview will be uploaded on Wednesday morning. If you didn’t receive the newsletter then please check your spam filter. If you still didn’t receive it then please let me know and I’ll check the database.

Congratulations to Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies for winning the French Champion Hurdle with the failed chaser Ptit Zig in first-time blinkers. This is the same Ptit Zig that Thistlecrack beat by 12 lengths in the Cleeve Hurdle without turning a hair. As I highlighted in the Trainer Trends section and in numerous race previews, how many big races has Nicholls won when he makes changes, either being new headgear, change of headgear or wind ops etc. Silviniaco Conti, Solar Impulse and Ptit Zig to name but three since the turn of the year.

I’m writing this shortly after the race so haven’t seen any sectional times but it looked like the big two of Blue Dragon and Un De Sceaux, who was trying 3m+ for the first time, went off too fast. UDS was a tired horse when making a mistake at the final flight and dropped out of the places to finish sixth so that experiment didn’t come off. In fact, although he was third, I’d say that Blue Dragon was the more disappointing. It has to be a case of aiming Ptit Zig at the World Hurdle now I would have thought and, knowing Nicholls, a crack at the Long Walk Hurdle en route.

I’ve enjoyed the football so far. We had a nice start when the suggested Draw-France HT/FT bet came in at 3/1 but gave a chunk of that back when England conceded late on having played Russia off the park. In fact, I’d say it was the best English performance on the eye since they beat Holland 4-0 at Euro 96.

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