Paul Nicholls wins tenth trainers’ title after final day drama

Paul Nicholls celebrates winning

Paul Nicholls celebrates winning his tenth trainers’ championship

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

PAUL NICHOLLS won his tenth trainers’ title after an enthralling battle with Willie Mullins that went down to the last day of the season at Sandown.

The title fight had swung one way and then the other, with Mullins holding the upper hand after Aintree, but in the last week of the season Nicholls hit back, with Vicente’s Scottish Grand National spearheading the charge.

A magnanimous Nicholls said: “It’s not about me, it’s a team effort. It always has been and always will be.

“We dug in and kept going. We needed a few miracles and Vicente gave us a big day at Ayr. The first title was obviously special but this is by far and away the best. I didn’t want to give it away.” 

How the day unfolded

Coming into the final day of the season, Nicholls held an advantage of over £50,000 from Mullins, but his rival had a team including Un De Sceaux, Valseur Lido and Vroum Vroum Mag.

However, Valseur Lido and Un De Sceaux could only finish second in their races, and with Voix Du Reve also finishing runner-up, Mullins only made incremental gains before the big race of the day, the bet365 Gold Cup.

Paul Nicholls celebrates winning

Paul Nicholls: title win “by far and away the best”

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Last year’s winner Just A Par turned in another heroic display for Nicholls, narrowly going down to The Young Master by a short head. But he earned just over £31,000, and with Southfield Theatre claiming fourth Nicholls reached the summit again with three races left of the season.

With his challenge over, Mullins withdrew Vroum Vroum Mag from her intended race later on the card, for which he received a £1,000 fine.

Mullins was among the first to shake the champion trainer’s hand, and Nicholls added: “Willie is a fantastic trainer and I’ve got huge respect for him.”

Rollercoaster ride

Before the Cheltenham Festival, Mullins lay 17th in the standings, but he had a wealth of ammunition and with a succession of big-race winners stormed up the leaderboard.

Having banked over £1.2million at Cheltenham, Mullins was keen to see if he could secure a maiden British title and sent a strong team to Aintree.

While he did win Grade 1s with Apple’s Jade, Annie Power, Douvan and Yorkhill, Vautour’s fall in the Melling Chase ultimately proved costly.

Mullins missed out on £112,788, which would have offset the Scottish Grand National victory of Vicente for Nicholls.


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