Paul Nicholls responds to Gordon Elliott’s ‘duck and dive’ claims | Horse racing news

Edward Whitaker (

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Champion trainer Paul Nicholls: "We're not afraid of anyone, we don't swerve and dive and try to avoid running into each other"

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls: “We’re not afraid of anyone, we don’t swerve and dive and try to avoid running into each other”

Edward Whitaker (

By Peter Scargill

Paul Nicholls has launched an impassioned defense of British trainers’ approach to campaigning their horses after it was claimed they were damaging the sport by refusing to regularly run their best performers against each other.

The 13-time champion jumps trainer dismissed Gordon Elliott’s suggestion that British racing has been eclipsed by Ireland, partly because trainers have been able to “dive and dive all the time” rather than compete regularly as as he and his colleagues do.

Irish-trained horses have dominated British showjumping in recent seasons, as evidenced when Irish trainers won 23 of the 28 races at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

At this year’s meeting, Willie Mullins single-handedly won ten of the 28 races, with all seven races on the final day won by Irish trainers. In addition, the last four winners of the Randox Grand National have also been trained in Ireland, including Elliott’s two-time winner Tiger Roll.

Elliott said on Monday that “there are no hiding places in Ireland” and cited the example of Nicky Henderson running two of his best horses – Constitution Hill and Epatante – in the same race at Newcastle at the weekend as something that “doesn’t happen in England too often.”

He added: “We know when we go to the big races that we have the best horses because you have to pick each other up.”

However, Nicholls was not prepared to accept the point made by Elliott, stating instead that British trainers were solely focused on ensuring that their horses ran in the races where they had the best chance of winning.

“I thought it was a bunch of bull, we lead our horses where we think is best for them,” Nicholls said. “We’re not afraid of anybody, we don’t swerve and dive and try to avoid running into each other. I didn’t agree with a word of it.”

While Nicholls directly defended the approach taken by himself and his teammates, several trainers contacted by the Racing Post on Tuesday chose not to comment.

Nicholls’ view was backed up by fellow Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies who said: “With our horses we always try to go where they have the best chance of winning and where we think the prize in money is the best. . It is never our concern who the opposition is.

“I can’t speak for other people in terms of how they approach things or how they see what we do, but we certainly don’t worry about what other people do with their horses. I think that’s the best way to be.”

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

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Paul Nicholls: "We run our horses in the races we think are the best, and it's as simple as that"

Paul Nicholls: ‘We run our horses in the races we think are the best and it’s as simple as that’

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Nicholls was speaking at a Jockey Club press event on Tuesday as part of the build-up to Saturday’s Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, where the trainer will be looking for a 13th Grade 1 victory with last year’s winner Greaneteen.

Saturday’s meeting also includes the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novice Chase, in which Nicholls has entered Monmiral, although the trainer indicated the 2m3f Grade 2 Noel Novice Chase at Ascot on December 17 was a more likely option .

Moving on to the Ascot contest, which Nicholls won last year with Pic d’Orhy, would mean Monmiral avoids a second showdown with Jonbon, the short-priced favorite for Sporting Life Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, who beat Monmiral by seven lengths at Warwick. last time.

Asked if this was an example of Elliott’s claim about British jumps racing, Nicholls said: “We run our horses in the races we think are best for them and it’s as simple as that. With Monmiral, the run over two miles at Sandown is probably too sharp for him and it’s as simple as that.

“I’m not sure I want to face Jonbon on good ground as he looked like he had so much speed at Warwick. On a softer ground this wouldn’t be as much of a concern, but it looks like it’s going to be a dry week at Sandown.

“We might go to Ascot for the Noel Novices’ Chase in a few weeks, but we’ll see. I’m open-minded about it at the moment.”

Read these next. . .

“We can’t dive, that’s the big difference” – Elliott on British racing

‘They’ve got to come and beat us’ – Paul Nicholls on Tingle Creek’s chances

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PUBLISHED FIRST 11:00, 29 NOV 2022

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