On a sunny afternoon at Perth last Wednesday, would-be champion trainer Paul Nicholls totted up his personal best for a season when landing his 172nd victory for the 2020/21 campaign.
Despite lacking a Cheltenham Festival winner back in March, the Ditcheat chief has still enjoyed six Grade 1 successes since December and took home a 12th champion trainer’s title at Sandown Park on Saturday.
On Wednesday afternoon, he sends recent Betway Bowl victor Clan Des Obeaux across the Irish Sea to Punchestown in a bid to tackle the best of those flying the Irish tri-colour.
But in homage to another record-breaking 11 months, we reflect on Nicholls’s five greatest moments that his band of Somerset contenders have provided.
Take a read.
Politologue | Betfair Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1) | Saturday 5th December 2020
Ridden by subsequent champion jockey Harry Skelton, who had partnered the grey to victory in the Champion Chase nine months prior, John Hales’ star landed a second Tingle Creek in Esher to get his season off to a flier.
The 9-year-old hosed up by 7-lengths, following the late withdrawal of Altior, a horse who had always had his number.
It was his fourth career Grade 1, and he would go onto finish second in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot and fourth in the Melling at Aintree.
Frodon | Ladbrokes King George VI Chase (Grade 1) | Saturday 26th December 2020
12 has been the magic number for Nicholls in 2020/21, and he secured that number of wins in the King George on Boxing Day thanks to the valiant efforts of fan favourite Frodon.
The 2019 Ryanair winner wasn’t the stable’s expected successor with two-time king Clan Des Obeaux and highest rated horse in training Cyrname also in the field, but that didn’t halt Bryony Frost’s mount from putting in a superb front-running display and reward his trainer with a third win in a row in the contest.
He went onto finish a mighty fifth in the Gold Cup before taking the Oaksey Chase at Sandown on Saturday afternoon.
Monmiral | Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) | Thursday 8th April 2021
Nicholls’ decision to bypass the Triumph proved a masterstroke as his unbeaten French import maintained his undefeated record at Aintree at the Grand National Festival.
The son of Saint Des Saints won on three occasions between November and February, but his handler opted to save him for Merseyside over Gloucestershire with preference for a tilt at a novice chasing career next season.
It proved a decisive decision, as Monmiral landed the five-timer in good style under Harry Cobden to hold the Cheltenham Festival second Adagio at bay.
Threeunderthrufive | British EBF William Hill Gold Castle “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) | Wednesday 21st April
The day where a new record was set.
A consistent performer for Ditcheat, amplified none more so than when finishing a creditable sixth in the Albert Bartlett, the McNeill Family’s Shantou gelding got back to winning ways at Perth a week ago under Adrian Heskin.
Nicholls went onto record four more victories for the season later in the week.
Greaneteen | bet365 Celebration Chase (Grade 1) | Saturday 24th April 2021
A fitting way to cap off the season on Saturday, Nicholls celebrated success in the sole Grade 1 on the card as his Great Pretender representative put in a superb display to see off the legendary Altior under Bryony Frost.
The Haldon Cup winner ran a cracker in the Champion Chase in March but went three places better in Surrey to secure a first top-class success.