Paul Nicholls is a national hunt horse trainer who previously achieved much success as a jockey. In the early 80s his education in racing began under four time champion jockey Josh Gifford, before joining forces with David Barons. In his three years as a jockey he gained a total of 133 wins and won prestigious races as the Hennessy Gold Cup (twice) and the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup. An injury ended his career after three years, prompting a move into training a couple of years later.
In 1991 Nicholls took out his training license, a decision he’s unlikely to regret based on the illustrious career that followed. After a period as assistant trainer to Barons he took a slow and sure approach with just 8 horses at Manor Farm, Ditcheat. The approach paid off with a grade one win with ‘See More Indians’ at Kempton in 1993.
It wasn’t until 1999 that things really went to the next level though, with massive success at the Cheltenham Festival winning the Arkle Trophy Challenge, Queen Mother Champion Chase, and the one they all want to win, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. In the years that would follow a Champion Trainer accolade came Nicholl’s way (a title he’s now claimed 8 times) and now with jockey Ruby Walsh on board the wins came thick and fast. Multiple Queen Mother Champion Chase wins (Azertyuiop, Masterminded), 5 x King George VI chase wins with Kauto Star and two Chelten Gold Cup wins with Kauto Star also.
To many to crowning achievement was in having the 1,2,3 in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Denman, Kauto Star and Neptune Collonges, the latter went on to win the Grand National in 2012, leaving many to think ‘What hasn’t he won?’. With prize money of £2-3 million each year on average (2014-15 – £3,246,894 – 124 wins | 2015-16 – £2,439,740 – 122 wins) and over 2000 wins as a trainer, Paul Nicholls is unlikely to change his winning formula anytime soon.