Paul Nicholls: enjoyed a landmark win at Exeter

Edward Whitaker

Paul Nicholls has become the tenth winningmost trainer in Britain after Greaneteen gave him a landmark success at Exeter on New Year’s Day, bringing his tally to 2,951.

Nicholls, who started training in 1991 and has handled greats such as Kauto Star and Denman, overtakes jumps trainer Arthur Yates into tenth spot. Mark Johnston topped the list, overtaking Richard Hannon snr, when Poet’s Society won at York’s Ebor meeting in August.

Greaneteen was Nicholls’ second winner of the day at Exeter. He levelled Yates’s tally when Cliffs Of Dover struck in the preceding handicap hurdle, with both horses ridden by Bryony Frost.

Paul Nicholls statistics

Nicholls said: “I wasn’t aware we were close to reaching the top ten, but I’m very proud and it just shows what an amazing team we’ve got.

“It’s brilliant for everyone involved and to reach an achievement like that is fantastic.

The master of Team Ditcheat is a ten-time champion jumps trainer in Britain but how does he maintain a consistent stream of winners year after year?

Nicholls, who has saddled more than 100 winners in each of the last 17 seasons, said: “We just try and do the right thing and run our horses in the right races. You have to build up a good team around you of owners, staff and horses, and try not to make too many mistakes.

“You never stop learning in this game and I love it. I love the horses and the people, and you can’t explain how good it is when we have days like last week when we won the King George VI Chase with Clan Des Obeaux. We put all the hard work in for days like that.

“Me and Clifford Baker, my head lad, have made a few changes for this season and thankfully they have helped to produce the right results.”

Paul Nicholls (right) returns to Kempton’s winner’s enclosure with King George hero Clan Des Obeaux

Edward Whitaker

Clan Des Obeaux gave Nicholls a tenth King George VI Chase success at Kempton on December 26, while Quel Destin landed a top-level prize in the Juvenile Finale at Chepstow the following day to help the trainer extend his lead in the title race.

Nicholls, who enjoyed his first Grade 1 victory with See More Indians in the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton in 1993, is the first to stress the importance of his team at his Somerset base and expressed his pride in them.

“I’ve always said it’s all about the Team Ditcheat approach for us, headed by Clifford, and we’ve got so many amazing people,” said Nicholls, who landed back-to-back Hennessy Gold Cups in 1986 and 1987 during his riding career.

“They work hard day in, day out – and it’s not easy – but it just shows they’re the best and I’m proud of all of them.

“Bryony Frost and Harry Cobden are flying the flag for us and everyone over the years, including Sam Twiston-Davies and Ruby Walsh, have all played a massive part and I’m proud of them all.

“It’s been great and I’m very lucky to be in the position I’m in.”

Wins Trainer (First/last win) Flat Jumps
 4,244  Mark Johnston  (1987- )  4,239  5
 4,193  Richard Hannon snr  (1970-2013)  4,145  48
 4,183  Martin Pipe  (1975-2006)  253  3,930
 3,881  Sir Michael Stoute  (1972- )  3,869  12
 3,377  Sir Henry Cecil  (1969-2013)  3,377  –
 3,277  John Dunlop  (1966-2012)  3,273  4
 3,181  Barry Hills  (1969-2015)  3,171  10
 3,104  Nicky Henderson  (1978- )  44  3,060
 2,989   Arthur Stephenson  (1946-92)  344  2,645
 2,951  Paul Nicholls  (1991-)   11  2,940
  Compiled by John Randall   

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