StanJames.com spokesman Rory Jiwani said, “We decided to suspend all betting concerning Nicholls at the Festival and the GB Jumps trainers’ championship until we got a clearer indication as to the extent of the coughing. And while this is obviously far from ideal timing with Cheltenham just three weeks away, it is not as serious as first feared.
“The news that Kauto Star, Big Buck’s, Join Together and Al Ferof have not been affected will be music to the ears of antepost punters, but we have decided to ease Nicholls from 15/8 to 9/4 to be top Festival trainer. Favourite Willie Mullins is 5/4 from 13/8 with Nicky Henderson now 2/1 from 9/4.
“In the Jumps trainers’ championship, Nicholls is 2/5 having been 2/7 at the start of yesterday with Henderson 7/4 from 5/2. The Festival will prove vital in deciding this the title with Nicholls currently leading by just over 200,000 pounds.
“Amazingly, Zarkandar won last Friday’s Betfair Hurdle despite suffering from the bug. Nicholls expects he and the other affected horses to be back in full training by the end of the week after completing a course of antibiotics.”
Festival Top Trainer (Count back rules apply): 5/4 Willie Mullins 2 Nicky Henderson 9/4 Paul Nicholls 33 Philip Hobbs 33 Alan King 33 Donald McCain 50 bar
Total Paul Nicholls Festival Winners: 8/11 Under 3.5 EVS Over 3.5
GB Jumps Trainers’ Championship: 2/5 Paul Nicholls 7/4 Nicky Henderson 33 Donald McCain 100 David Pipe 100 Philip Hobbs