Paul Nicholls (horse racing)

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Paul Nicholls
Paul Nicholls 3.jpg
Paul Nicholls
Born (1962-04-17) 17 April 1962 (age 57)
Lydney, Gloucestershire
Career winsAs a National Hunt jockey: 133
As a National Hunt Trainer: 3000+
Major racing wins
As a National Hunt jockey:

Hennessy Gold Cup (1986, 1987)
Irish Hennessey Gold Cup (1988)

As a trainer in UK National Hunt Grade Ones
Cheltenham Gold Cup (1999, 2007, 2008, 2009)
King George VI Chase (1997, 1999, 2006 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018)
Champion Hurdle (2012)
Queen Mother Champion Chase (1999, 2004, 2008, 2009)
World Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
Supreme Novices' Hurdle (2006, 2011)
Triumph Hurdle (2008, 2011)
Arkle Challenge Trophy (1999, 2003)
RSA Chase (2006, 2007)
Betfair Chase (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014)
Challow Novices' Hurdle (2003, 2006)
Ascot Chase (2000, 2008)
Tolworth Hurdle (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008)
Feltham Novices' Chase (1993, 2003, 2008)
Tingle Creek Chase (1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
Long Walk Hurdle (2009, 2010, 2011)
Victor Chandler Chase (1999, 2009, 2010, 2011)
Melling Chase (2001, 2011)
Betfred Bowl (2000, 2010, 2014)
Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices' Hurdle (2011)
Liverpool Hurdle (2010, 2011, 2012)
Maghull Novices' Chase (1999, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010)
Henry VIII Novices' Chase (2011)
Victor Chandler Chase (2009, 2010, 2011)
Scilly Isles Novices' Chase (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
Future Champion Novices' Chase (1994)
Aintree Hurdle (2013)

As a trainer in Ireland National Hunt Grade Ones:
Guinness Gold Cup (2007, 2008)
Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (2003)
Swordlestown Cup Novices Chase (2003)
Kerrygold Champion Chase (2008, 2009)
John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase (2008)
Lexus Chase (2007, 2009, 2012) Champion Chase (2007, 2008, 2010, 2012)

Other Big race Winners UK:
Grand National (2012)
Hennessy Gold Cup (2003, 2007, 2009)
Welsh National (2004, 2005)
Scottish Grand National (1997)
Bet365 Gold Cup (2001, 2003)
Paddy Power Gold Cup (2012)
Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap Hurdle (2011)
Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase (2009)
Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle (2004, 2006, 2009, 2014)
Festival Trophy Chase (2005, 2007)
Grand Annual (2004, 2007)

Christie's Foxhunter Chase (2004, 2005)
Racing awards
British jump racing Champion Trainer
(2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2018-19)
Significant horses
Kauto Star, Denman, Big Buck's, Master Minded, See More Business, Thisthatandtother, Celestial Halo, Cenkos, What A Friend, Al Ferof, Neptune Collonges, Zarkandar, Noland, Twist Magic, Azertyuiop, Strong Flow, Call Equiname, Flagship Uberalles, Rock On Ruby, Silviniaco Conti, Rocky Creek, Caid Du Berlais, Chapoturgeon.

Paul Nicholls (born 17 April 1962) is a British National Hunt horse trainer with stables at Ditcheat, Somerset. A relatively successful jump jockey, Nicholls has become the leading National Hunt trainer of his generation, finishing the 2007–08 season with 155 winners and a record £4 million in prize money. To date, he has trained over 3000 winners, won the 2012 Grand National, four Cheltenham Gold Cups and has been crowned British jump racing Champion Trainer eleven times.

Early life[edit]

The son of a policeman,[1] Nicholls was educated at Marlwood School, Alveston before leaving at 16 to take up work in a local point-to-point yard.

Jockey career[edit]

Nicholls turned conditional in 1982 under the tutelage of Josh Gifford before joining David Barons in 1985, and became stable jockey in 1986. It was with Barons that Nicholls was most closely associated during his riding career. The pair enjoyed numerous big race successes, including back-to-back wins in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury with Broadheath in 1986 and Playschool the following year. Playschool also won the 1987 Welsh Grand National, and the 1988 Irish Hennessey with Nicholls. Playschool was subsequently made favourite for the 1988 Cheltenham Gold Cup[2] but was pulled up before the 20th fence. Barons attributed Playschool's lacklustre performance to doping but his claims were never substantiated.[2] Following a broken leg when kicked by a horse during pre-season training sustained in 1989, Nicholls retired from the saddle having ridden a respectable 133 winners during a seven-year career.[3]

Training career[edit]

Nicholls took out his trainer's licence in 1991, having served a two-year apprenticeship as assistant trainer to Barons which saw him assist in Seagram's winning Grand National attempt.[1] In response to an advert placed in the Sporting Life, Nicholls began his training operation at Manor Farm, Ditcheat, in stables rented from local dairy farmer Paul Barber.[2] Starting with just eight horses,[4] his first winner soon followed, the appropriately named Olveston, owned by Nicholls' father and named after the South Gloucestershire village in which he was raised. A steady climb up the training ladder followed, with Nicholls' first grade one success coming with See More Indians in the Feltham Novices' Chase at Kempton in 1993.[2]

However, it was the 1999 Cheltenham Festival that saw Nicholls' breakthrough into jump racing's elite, winning three of the most prestigious steeplechases in National Hunt racing. Nicholls enjoyed a memorable meeting, collecting the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Call Equiname,[5] the Arkle Challenge Trophy with Flagship Uberalles,[5] and the Gold Cup with See More Business.[5] However, it was not until the end of the 2005–06 season, after seven years of filling the runners up spot that Nicholls was finally crowned Champion Trainer for the first time, his eventual coronation coming after a long struggle for supremacy with multiple champion Martin Pipe.[1][6]

The appointment of the Irish rider Ruby Walsh as stable jockey strengthened Nicholls' hand in the big races. Their major successes include the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Azertyuiop (2004)[7] and Master Minded (2008 and 2009),[8][9] five wins in the King George VI Chase with Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011)[10] and the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Kauto Star in 2007 and 2009.[11] Nicholls' finest hour came in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup where he saddled the first three horses home: in finishing order, Denman (ridden by Sam Thomas), Kauto Star and Neptune Collonges.[12] At the high of his stable stars' powers, Nicholls' dominance extended across the Irish Sea and his horses plundered Ireland's most valuable jumping prizes with increasing regularity.

In December 2008, Nicholls trained his 50th grade one winner when Master Minded (ridden by AP McCoy) won the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown,[13] and on 5 November 2011, Kauto Stone made Nicholls the fastest National Hunt trainer to reach 2000 winners.[4][14]

Many equine stars have been nurtured by Nicholls and there are few top prizes to elude him, the two missing races from his UK portfolio were added in 2012 when Rock on Ruby won the Champion Hurdle[15] and Neptune Collonges, ridden by Daryl Jacob, won the Grand National.[16]

In April 2016, he won the champion trainer's title for the tenth time.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Nicholls is renowned for being approachable and media-friendly. He writes a popular column on Betfair[18] and his frank and honest opinions are well respected by members of the racing public.

Away from racing, Nicholls has a keen interest in horticulture, particularly rose growing.[19] He is also an avid supporter of Manchester United, whose long-time manager Sir Alex Ferguson has several horses in training with Nicholls.[6]

In November 2009, Nicholls starred alongside Kauto Star in a short film to promote Somerset, commissioned by inward investment agency Into Somerset.[20]

He has been married three times.[6][21] He married Georgie Brown in Barbados in May 2011.[21] The couple have two children, while Nicholls also has a daughter from his second marriage.[21]


  1. ^ a b c The Kauto Star story BBC Sport, 1 March 2012
  2. ^ a b c d Deep Bramble pricks Nicholls' memories The Independent, 9 March 1995
  3. ^ Harry Derham, nephew of champion trainer Paul Nicholls, aims to become professional jockey Gazette Series, 4 November 2010
  4. ^ a b Nicholls' mark etched in Stone The Independent, 6 November 2011
  5. ^ a b c Paul Nicholls BBC Sport, 10 November 2003
  6. ^ a b c Trying to be the best cost me two marriages – now I just want to win races rather than the title, insists Paul Nicholls Mail Online, 11 October 2009
  7. ^ Flyer falls as Azertyuiop romps home, 17 March 2004
  8. ^ Cheltenham Festival: Favourite Master Minded wins Queen Mother Champion Chase The Telegraph, 11 March 2009
  9. ^ Master Minded set to shine at Cheltenham This is Somerset, 10 March 2011
  10. ^ Brilliant Kauto Star wins fifth King George VI Chase at Kempton, 26 December 2011
  11. ^ Historic Gold Cup win for Kauto BBC Sport, 13 March 2009
  12. ^ Denman storms to Gold Cup victory BBC Sport, 14 March 2008
  13. ^ Bookies fear the Master as Nicholls threatens to clean up Mail Online, 7 December 2008
  14. ^ Kauto Stone brings up Nicholls' 2,000th win, 5 November 2011
  15. ^ Cheltenham Festival: Rock on Ruby lands Champion Hurdle BBC Sport, 13 March 2012
  16. ^ Grand National: Neptune Collonges seals dramatic victory BBC Sport, 14 April 2012
  17. ^ Allison, Peter (28 April 2014). "Sire de Grugy finishes season on a high". The Scotsman. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  18. ^ Paul Nicholls Betfair
  19. ^ Gold for Horses, Green for Gardening Somerset Life
  20. ^ INTO SOMERSET LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE CELEBRITY FILM Archived 20 April 2013 at Into Somerset, 10 November 2009
  21. ^ a b c Trainer Nicholls' surprise Barbados wedding This is Somerset, 2 June 2011

External links[edit]