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There has been plenty written about whether Willie Mullins can win the British Trainers’ Championship so I thought I would do some extremely basic mathematics to see if he should be favourite over Paul Nicholls who currently holds a lead of £775,000 over him.
Even if Mullins was to win the Supreme, Arkle, Champion Hurdle, Mares Hurdle and Champion Chase on the first two days of the Festival, that still leaves him short of Nicholls and the chances are that at least one of those won’t win given the combined odds are over 16/1. However, I do appreciate that he will mop up plenty of prize money, especially in the Champion Hurdle, and he is also strong in the Neptune, JLT and has two live shots at the Gold Cup. Nicholls will be adding to his tally all the time as well though and I’d expect him to pull a few more quid ahead of Mullins in the run up to Cheltenham as the Irish runners dry up. Although Nicholls is short on Grade 1 horses for Cheltenham I don’t agree with Tom Segal’s view that Philip Hobbs has a stronger Festival squad in the slightest (fancy a match bet Tom?) and the Champion Trainer will do well elsewhere at the meeting, notably in the handicap hurdles where he has fared so well at the Festival recently.
Of course, with over half a million heading to the yard that wins the Grand National, everything else becomes irrelevant if either Mullins or Nicholls can win that race. With regards to Aintree, that isn’t a meeting that Mullins usually attacks as he keeps back the vast majority of his Grade 1 horses for Punchestown which means a heck of a lot more to him whereas Nicholls tends to send a whole bunch of his Cheltenham runners to Liverpool so he will have a strong numerical advantage at that meeting. There is the possibility though that Mullins will send more over if he really, really wants the title. All in all, I would have Nicholls as slight favourite, but he isn’t.
It’s the start of the Six Nations and the Superbowl this weekend and I’m no expert on either. I’ll leave the NFL action to Ross Miles in his final preview of the season ahead of Sunday night’s clash between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos but, for a little interest on the rugby over the next few weeks, I have backed Wales who looked the best of the European teams to me in the World Cup despite a raft of injuries. Two of their toughest games are away from home which is why I suppose England are favourites over them but it strikes me that a hell of a lot of faith is being placed in their new coach judged on events of last autumn including when Wales beat them at Twickenham.