Paul Nicholls’ achievements within racing are second to none. Paul was a successful jockey in his own right winning back-to-back Hennessy Gold Cups in 1986 and 1987 but his riding career came to a halt in 1989 after breaking a leg.
Nicholls took out his trainers’ licence in 1991 and set up base in Ditcheat, Somerset. He sent out his first winner that same year - Olveston owned by Brian Nicholls, Paul’s father. The 1993-94 season saw the yard claim their first Grade One wins as See More Indians claimed the Feltham Novice’s Chase and the Future Champions Novice Chase to put the stable on the map. The team had to be patient in waiting for more top level success, but they were ultimately rewarded when See More Business stayed on to win the King George VI Chase. The same horse was saddled the following season to bring Paul’s first Gold Cup win at the Cheltenham Festival in a famous treble as Flagship Uberalles took the Arkle Trophy, and Call Equiname the Queen Mother Chase. This season laid the foundation of the Paul Nicholls legend – a dream that would be realised in the 2005-06 season.
Despite the intervening seasons bringing 14 Grade One wins – including two Cheltenham Festival wins for Azertyviop – the 2005-06 will live long in the memory for several reasons. Not only did Paul win his first Trainer’s Championship, but the season saw the first Grade One wins of stable legends Kauto Star and Denman, in the Tingle Creek Trophy and Challow Novices Hurdle respectively. Kauto Star broke-out the next season bringing in three Grade Ones – including the Cheltenham Gold Cup – as Denman won the RSA Chase.
2007-08 brought an astounding thirteen Grade Ones for the stable, including another Cheltenham Festival treble as Denman brought home the Gold Cup, Celestial Halo won the Triumph Hurdle and Master Minded dominated in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Master Minded backed up this success by claiming four more Grade Ones the next season, before Paul pulled off another Cheltenham treble in 2011 with Al Ferof, Big Buck’s and Zarkandar clean sweeping the big hurdling races.
Another milestone came in 2012 when Neptune Collognes won Paul first, and only, Grand National at Aintree. This season also saw Paul win an incredible seventh consecutive Trainer’s Championship. He failed to retain this title in 2012-13, but came back strongly to retake the title twice in a row, particularly impressing in 2014-15 with Silviniaco Conti and Dodging Bullets taking three Grade Ones apiece.
This season saw Paul claim his tenth Trainer’s Championship after an epic battle with Ireland’s Willie Mullins. He shows no signs of slowing down and more records are sure to tumble in the coming seasons.