British NH Champions Named At Sandown

Trainer Paul Nicholls was awarded his 14th British Champion NH Trainer award, when the end-of-season champions were named at Sandown Park on Saturday. He is sitting on 3,582 British jump winners to date. Nicholls is eyeing the longstanding records of Martin Pipe, who accumulated 15 Champion Jump Trainer championships, and also saddled 4,183 winners under both codes.

“It’s been a fantastic season with some fantastic horses that have been very consistent all through the campaign and we are obviously thrilled,” said Nicholls. “It reflects very well on the whole team and everyone involved that we’ve had a 28% strike rate right through from October until now, which is the best we’ve ever achieved.”

Bravemansgame (Fr) (Brave Mansonnien {Fr}), as well as Cheltenham Festival winners Stay Away Fay (Ire) (Shantou) and Stage Star (Ire) (Fame And Glory {Ire}), where some of the leading lights of the stable during the season.

“We want to compete at the highest level and we’re getting there again,” the trainer added. “It’s like with a football team–they might win the Premiership and then go away for four or five years before coming back. It’s all about the players on the team.”

JP McManus, who won his 20th Irish Champion Owner title this year, earned his 15th British Champion Jumps Owner award. Later in the day, his Under Control (Fr) (Doctor Dino {Fr}) won the bet365 Novices’ Championship Final Handicap Hurdle.

Brian Hughes won the Champion NH Jockey title for the third time with 165 winners. He is already focusing on attempting a fourth title, and beating his tally of 204 winners during the 2021-2022 season. His family was on hand at the racecourse on Saturday.

“There’s a bus load at Sandown,” the jockey said, regarding his family and friends who traveled to watch the presentation. “I organised for a bus to take all the family down there. There’s my wife and kids and then her parents and my parents and plenty of others, so logistically it seemed the right thing to do. It’s a long way to go in cars and getting on a bus together takes the stress away.

“Everything was behind closed doors when I won my first title, but the welcome I got last year was great. I’m not really one for fanfare or anything like that, but my family had a good day.”

Luca Morgan was named the Champion Conditional Jockey. Morgan rode 45 winners through the 2022-2023 season for his boss, trainer Ben Pauling.

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