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‘Suspicious’ Paul Nicholls explains theory behind unusual dry spell in run up to Cheltenham Festival

‘SUSPICIOUS’ Paul Nicholls has explained his theory behind his yard’s poor form.

The champion trainer is enduring a rare dry spell with his runners, summed up by Frodon and Greaneteen’s poor showings in Ireland last weekend.

Nicholls believes an issue with the hay his horses eat could be to blame for his quiet spell

But with just five weeks to go until Cheltenham Festival, Nicholls reckons he’s cracked the code.

And he insists he is not clutching at straws by saying it’s down to the wrong type of hay.

Nicholls, who has no runners until Thursday, spoke at length with Betfair about his yard’s form.

And he said a similar problem that struck a few years ago could be behind this latest barren run.

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Nicholls said: “We had a problem in January in 2015/16 and it turned out to be the hay.

“The longer you leave haylage, the mineral levels drop down.

“Back then we put them on potassium and calcium supplements and we’ve already put them on that now as we are suspicious.

“We’re just guessing that’s what it is. We’re waiting for the tests to come back, but we are already covering our tracks.

“You wouldn’t know there was a problem looking at them. When they are sick or have a cough you know where you are and you draw stumps, but this is like it was a few years ago.

“I think it’s a short-term thing. You can overthink things and I think you can put a line through a few of them for one or two different reasons, but there’s one or two that you can’t.

“I think you’ve just got to be positive and crack on until you know otherwise.”

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Stable jockey Harry Cobden reflected Nicholls’ optimism and said they’ll be bang on for the Festival.

He said: “Normally we have a quiet January anyway, but it’s not normally this bad.

“At least it’s happening now instead of March or April. It’s not the worst thing in the world.

“We’ve had a bit of a luckless run but it’ll come right.”

Nicholls can bounce back at Newbury on Saturday.

Clan Des Obeaux is odds-on to land the Grade 2 Betfair Denman Chase, with Bravemansgame 11-1 in the same race.

Knappers Hill will go for the Betfair Hurdle, while Hitman is entered in the Grade 2 Spirit Chase and Diego Du Charmil the Castle Handicap Chase, among others.

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