Nicholls eyeing more after 3,000th win
Paul Nicholls is already eyeing another significant career landmark as a trainer after a spectacular season was capped with his 3,000th jumps winner on British soil at Cheltenham yesterday.
Nicholls, who started training in 1991, is best known for his association with greats like Kauto Star, Denman and Big Buck's and, fittingly, it was at the scene of many of their greatest triumphs that he completed the historic feat through the gutsy mare Kupatana.
An 11th UK trainers' championship looks certain for Nicholls as the season's end approaches but the Ditcheat maestro is already setting his sights on cementing his place among the pantheon of legends.
"It's been an amazing journey and to get my 3,000th winner at Cheltenham is just brilliant. I'll be looking for the 4,000 now - all we've got to do is keep going and getting the nice horses and it's perfectly achievable," the 57-year-old said.
"It's a great landmark in my training career as getting that amount of winners on the board from when I started out almost 30 years ago is something to be very proud of, but I couldn't have done it without everybody back at home.
"We've had plenty of big-race victories and I hope there are a lot more to come as we've got some very nice young horses at home for next season, and they are the future. I'm just as driven as I always have been and it's winners that count."
Rachael Blackmore was another big winner at the Cotswolds with the Tipperary pilot partnering Havingagoodtime (3/1 favourite) to success in the Grade Three Fillies' Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Her spectacular season continues, as does her fruitful partnership with Henry de Bromhead, and it was a bloodless success for the promising four-year-old as she came home 18 lengths to the good.
Meanwhile, Cheltenham Festival hero City Island remains on course for the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
Martin Brassil's stable star scorched to success in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cotswolds last month and the Co Kildare trainer is targeting another Grade One success for the yard on May 3.
"We have been very happy with him since Cheltenham," he said. "Punchestown is a very important meeting for everybody, but Seán and Bernardine (Mulryan, owners) like to have runners there, so it's nice to have a horse that can go there for a Grade One with a bit of a chance."