Paul Nicholls Hits 3,000 Winners

Paul Nicholls Hits 3,000 Winners

After a remarkable eight-timer across the cards on Saturday, ten-times Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls reached his next major milestone on Tuesday, when the querky grey Capitaine became the 3000th winner of his illustrious career.

The 7yo took the two-mile-and-half-a-furlong Greene King Handicap Hurdle at Taunton under Harry Cobden - equally in stunning form of late, when fending off the strong challenge of the Philip Hobbs-trained Sternrubin in the closing stages.

He got his head in front where it matters, leaving his trainer to be highly proud of on his own achievements to date.

(Credit: Racing Post) He said "It really is something of a landmark to reach the 3,000 winners overall as it's something I could only dream about in the early '90s when I first started training in Devon.

"The move to Paul Barber's Manor Farm yard in 1994 has proved pivotal in all the success we've had, and it's fantastic that he's a director at Taunton and here this afternoon," he finished.

Capitaine will not perhaps be one of the classier horses Nicholls has had in his yard based in Somerset in recent seasons, given the big names he once had.

However, as the Ditcheat Trainer aforementioned, every winner is important - whether it's a handicap hurdle at Taunton or a Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He said: "Capitaine has had a catalogue of problems, including an operation for kissing spines and then we had to tinker with his wind.

"My daughter Megan has done a lot of the work with him at home and it has all paid off handsomely. I must admit I thought he might just need this run but Meg was convinced he was in good form and she's been proved right."

"I couldn't have done any of this without all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, and I'm very fortunate to have a brilliant staff back at home, where all the real hard work is done."

Nicholls' super form of late has also put him into a convincing and commanding advantage over old advisory Nicky Henderson in this year's Jumps Trainer's Championship.

Despite the fact both Henderson and Dan Skelton - currently occupying second and third in the Championship ladder have independently trained more winners, Nicholls leads the way on prize money - with currently £2.1 million accumulated this campaign; almost £400,000 ahead of the man from Seven Burrows.

The Ditcheat team were assisted by some mouthwatering results from the weekend just gone - including Cyrname's obliteration of the Ascot Chase field - which rewarded him with the title of now being the best horse in training ahead of Altior, and Clan Des Obeaux's warm-up for the Gold Cup in the Denman Chase.

Brio Conti, Worthy Farm and Silver Forever were the other winners in an Ascot five-fold, whilst Grand Sancy, Quel Destin and Magic Saint were victorious elsewhere in the British Isles.

Nicholls - who has been forced to wait in the wings for the past few years whilst Lambourn Trainer Nicky Henderson has assumed dominance and supremacy in the National Hunt scene, looks as though he may finally have a team that is beginning to resemble that of the old greats in his yard.

Clan Des Obeaux
Clan Des Obeaux

King George Winner Clan Des Obeaux as we just said, competed in the race named after one of Nicholls' former stars Denman, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008, cancelling stablemate's Kauto Star's plans for a hat-trick.

The two again met in the 2009 renewal, now widely remembered as one of the greatest races in the history of the sport.

This fascinating stable rivalry had been forming in the years coming up to this, with many regarding Kauto Star to be the best Chaser of the 21st Century, until Denman - the young pretender, emerged onto the scene.

Away from Cheltenham, Kauto Star had been running riot in the Betfair Chase - with his fourth victory coming in 2011, along with his fifth King George at Kempton.

Flamboyant at his best, often a risk-taker but oozing class, he was nimble, athletic and overall just brilliant racehorse.

Whilst this cloud was forming, Denman, against all odds, managed to land two Hennessy's (now known as the Ladbrokes Trophy), under the top weight of 11st12, tanking his way through the field - thus giving him is nickname the Tank, along with a whole host of top race successes.

The term's heroes, or warriors, and even legends, are sometimes inexplicably overused, but seem appropriate for the two in this situation.

Kauto Star Race Horse
Kauto Star

It was Kauto Star and Ruby Walsh that got the better of Denman and Sam Thomas, where he became the first horse to regain the Gold Cup at Prestbury Park.

It's clashes like this that you do not see common nowadays; not at all recently do you see a horse win a Gold Cup and come back to defend it, let-alone winning it.

These were the Nicholls years, superior over all his rivals and he had several other top stable stars at this time that helped him reach these heights.

Let's not forget the likes of Big Bucks - four-time winner of the World Hurdle (now known as Stayers), Zarkandar, Master Minded, Al Ferof, Neptune's Collonges, Azertyuiop, Silviniaco Conto.. the list simply goes on and on.

Four Gold Cups in total, ten King George triumphs - five of which that went the way of Kauto, and 120 Grade One wins.

Just some of the incredible records Nicholls has managed to achieve in the last twenty years or so.

Of his 3,000 winners, the majority of those have been over hurdles or fences in Britain - 2,960 to be precise.

He has recorded eleven British Flat winners, twenty-five jumps winners in Ireland, with a further four reigning supreme in France.

His best prize-money haul came just over ten years ago when accumulating £3,646,511 in the 2007/08 season, and he looks well on his way to chase down that total this season.

Nicholls has not been in his best form in recent years, but he looks back in the thick of things now, and after his romp on Saturday, you would not question him going forward.