Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls is an elite British National Hunt horse racing trainer who has won the Trainers' Championship an amazing 12 times. Media-friendly and thoroughly professional, his weekend and major festival runners previews are a must-read for all bettors...
As a promising jockey, under the tutelage of first Josh Gifford and then David Barrons, Paul Nicholls enjoyed his most notable successes when riding back-to-back winners in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury during the mid 1980s.
But a serious leg break in the build-up to the 1989 season forced the then 27-year-old into retirement from the saddle having ridden 133 winners during a seven-year career.
Nicholls was determined to remain in the sport however and spent two years as an assistant trainer to Barrons before taking out his own licence in 1991, operating from Manor Farm, Ditcheat (from 1994 onwards), the stables where he has remained ever since.
Check our our Serial Winners film with Paul, going behind the scenes to find out what makes a winning trainer...
His first winner as a trainer soon followed, owned by his father and appropriately named Olveston, which was the village in South Gloucestershire in which Nicholls was raised. Just two years into his training career Nicholls saddled his first Grade 1 winner when See More Indians won the Feltham Novices' Chase at Kempton.
Nicholls' major breakthrough year came in 1999 when at the Cheltenham Festival he saddled winners of the Arkle (Flagship Uberalles), the Queen Mother Champion Chase (Call Equiname) and the Cheltenham Gold Cup (See More Business).
It was the start of what would become a match made in heaven between Nicholls and the Cheltenham Festival.
After finishing runner-up to the legendary Martin Pipe for seven successive seasons in the Trainers Championship Nicholls finally became champion trainer at the end of the 2005/06 season, but it was the following season that saw the Ditcheat handler enjoy tremendous success.
With top Irish rider Ruby Walsh his stable jockey Nicholls won the King George VI Chase with the brilliant Kauto Star, the Cheltenham Gold Cup with the same horse, the RSA Chase with Denman, and a plethora of other Grade 1 races including the Betfair Chase (Kauto Star) and the Tingle Creek (Twist Magic).
A highly successful season - the sign of what was to come in future years - was capped by more Cheltenham Festival glory and not surprisingly a second successive Trainers Championship.
Nicholls would go on to become champion National Hunt trainer for seven consecutive seasons thanks to an unprecedented team of stable stars that included Kauto Star, Denman, the brilliant two-mile Chaser Master Minded, and arguably one of the greatest staying hurdlers of all time, Big Buck's.
Among Nicholls' endless list of achievements perhaps winning Kempton's King George VI Chase a record 10 times ranks highest, but with four Cheltenham Gold Cup victories to his name, four Champions Chases, a Champion Hurdle success, two Triumph Hurdles and four World Hurdles, his major race CV at the biggest Festival in the sport is the envy of all his peers and has the respect from everyone.
In 2012 Nicholls fulfilled his dream of training the winner of the Grand National when Neptune Collonges landed the Aintree showpiece, while one of his proudest personal moments was helping his daughter Megan on the path to becoming a successful Flat jockey.
In February 2019 Nicholls trained his 3,000th career winner, making him one of the greatest and most successful National Hunt trainers of all time, and just a few months later he claimed his 11th Trainers Championship.
His attention to detail, his passion and love for the sport, and his desire to do the very best for all his owners means his Betfair columns ahead of the weekend racing and all major festivals are an unmissable read.