Paul Nicholls, Horse Racing God – In Profile
To many within the world of horse racing the name Paul Nicholls is synonymous with success.
He started his career out as a jump jockey. He was first a stable jockey for David Barons in 1986 and through his career as a jump jockey he achieved back to back wins in the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Welsh Grand National. Unfortunately after a career of 133 winners Paul had to retire from racing after suffering a broken leg when a horse kicked him in 1989.
This made Nicholls take the turn from being a jockey to becoming a trainer and in 1991 he took out his trainers’ license after sticking with David Barons as an apprentice coach for 2 years. During this two year apprenticeship Nicholls helped towards Seagram winning the Grand National.
Nicholls started out small on a farm in Ditcheat with just eight horses. His first winner didn’t take long in coming and by 1993 he had his first grade one success in theFeltham Novices Chase at Kempton. He continued to rise through the ranks as a trainer but it wasn’t until 6 years later that he made his big jump onto the main stage as a trainer. This break came at the 1999 Cheltenham Festival where he won three of the biggest steeplechase events in National Hunt racing. He won the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Arkle Challenge Trophy and the Gold Cup.
Even after this great success in 1999, Nicholls was not crowned Champion Trainer. In fact he had to wait until the 2005/2006 after seven years of finishing second to Martin Pipe to finally win the prestigious Champion Trainer award.
Probably the greatest achievement in Nicholls’s great career came in 2008 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup where all the top three finishers in the famous race where trained by himself. Kauto Star finished second in that race and has been one of his best horses having won the King George VI Chase five times and the Gold Cup in both the year before and after the great one two three finish for Nicholls. The 2007/2008 season was one of the greatest ever, having finished up with 155 winners and a record breaking £4 million in prizes.
Nicholls has had some big name Jockeys riding his horses including appointing Ruby Walsh as a stable Jockey and Nicholls’ 50th grade one winner was ridden by AP McCoy.
Seen to be one of the friendliest guys in the industry to go along with his star studded training and racing career, Nicholls still trains many successful horses but also like to spend his time writing a column for Betfair.