As he celebrates 30 years of being a trainer Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls can't wait for the new season to arrive as he updates us on some of his stable stars...
"I've now trained over 3,350 winners and am already working towards the next milestone of 4,000."
The start of October marks a significant anniversary in my life. This week 30 years ago I started training at Ditcheat with eight horses and a bucketful of dreams.
Things didn't go my way at first and it wasn't until a few days before Christmas that Olveston broke the ice for me over fences at Hereford.
I've now trained more than 3,350 winners and am already working towards the next milestone of 4,000.
I love what I do with a passion and am as ambitious as ever as we approach the core jumps season which gets under way at Chepstow this weekend.
It's a meeting I have had in my sights for months and last year we enjoyed a bonanza there with eight winners over the two days.
Summer horses keeping the yard in great form
Although last season was shortened two months by the pandemic we won the first race of the campaign at Southwell in July and the last one at Sandown at the end of April.
We had a fabulous time with 176 winners, five more than our previous best achieved in 2016-2017, and our band of summer horses have maintained the momentum with 31 victories at a strike rate of more than 30%.
We have never had so much success by the start of October. In truth the horses have been running consistently well for 12 months and continue to look amazing. In that time we have had almost 200 winners.
Still learning and still trying to improve
While we have a system that works really well you can't sit still in this game and each year we try to change and tweak a few things which will hopefully bring out a bit of improvement.
You could say it has taken me 30 years to learn what I am doing. Hopefully I have got the hang of it now and I am looking forward to the next 30 years.
Taking it easy and reducing the numbers is the last thing in my mind.
We don't cut any corners. You can't do that if you want to look after horses properly. This is not a factory where you turn off the machines early on Friday evening and start them up again on Monday.
Our horses deserve the best of care. They need a lot of attention and Clifford Baker, my head lad and right hand man, and I make sure they get it.
We are both still learning. But if you can have horses with people of our experience and then add the tremendous facilities on offer at Ditcheat you could not pick anywhere better to become an owner.
Can't wait to get cracking at Chepstow
We have dealt with every situation over the years, know how to work things out and it shows in the results which include 132 Grade 1 winners and a dozen Trainers' titles.
Now we have to do it all again and it helps that we have a well oiled set up, a first Class team and 150 horses in full training although we will probably run around 200 over the next seven months.
One morning last week we schooled a total of 48 horses over hurdles and fences on the loop beside our bottom gallop. It was one of those sessions that went like clockwork, brilliant to watch and left me impatient to get cracking at Chepstow now that the rain has come.
So this seems the ideal time to give you an update on a number of interesting horses to follow over the season...
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