Paul Nicholls landed the British Jumps trainers championship for the sixth season in succession as the 2010/11 term drew to a close at Sandown Park on Saturday, writes Elliot Slater.
Although his seasonal total of 134 winners was some 19 behind the figure of 153 recorded by his arch rival Nicky Henderson, Nicholls’ prize money haul of just over £2.42 million was some £234,000 ahead of the Master of Seven Barrows and was sufficient to guarantee him yet another title after what has been one of the most exciting races for the championship for some years. Those betting online certainly would have been thrilled by the twists and turns.
There’s no doubt that Henderson is getting very close to resting the prize off Paul Nicholls, but even after having enjoyed such an outstanding season Henderson failed once again to be crowned champion trainer. In some ways, even though he remains top dog, Nicholls might look back at the 2010/11 term as something of a watershed, with his stable stars getting older and failing to land the expected Group 1 haul’s that many people had anticipated despite running well throughout the term.
Kauto Star, third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a place behind stable companion Denman, managed just the one top flight win at Down Royal in November and is clearly not quite the force of old, a comment that also applies to Denman, even though Paul Barber’s charge continues to run tremendous races almost every time.
Big Buck’s remains the undisputed staying hurdles king as his haul of four wins (three at Grade 1 level) demonstrate, and his personal winnings of over £256,000 proved the difference between victory and defeat for Nicholls in his pursuit of another trainer’s championship.
Despite having tremendous firepower and a superb team backing him up, it remains to Nicholls’ great credit that he has continued to maintain a superb strike rate (23%) and a standard that still sets the bench mark in the National Hunt game.