Tuesday 21 January 2020

Paul Nicholls versus Willie Mullins: The title battle

Paul Nicholls' performance in the bet365 Gold Cup has given him an unassailable lead in the race for the trainers' championship.

Willie Mullins had been nibbling into Nicholls' overnight lead with placed efforts from Valseur Lido and Un De Sceaux, but Nicholls managed second and fourth in the big handicap chase, courtesy of Just A Par and Southfield Theatre respectively.

That put Nicholls' lead at an unassailable £75,745.04 and gave him another trainers' title.

The Ditcheat handler said: "To get Just A Par back from where he finished in the National (15th) - Harry (Cobden) gave him an awesome ride. That's been the toughest one (championship) because of the ammunition we've had. It's been a big team effort.

"It's been brilliant for racing."

A jubilant Nicholls went on: "Tom (Jonason, assistant) is leaving today and he didn't want to leave with us getting beaten.

"It's great for the whole team, everybody involved - it's not about me. It's a big team effort, always has been, always will be.

"It's been a tough season for lots of reasons, we had a bit of a flat spot and all sorts of gossip and rumours that things weren't right, but you have to dig deep and keep going.

"We've just kept trying to win as many races as we can. If you get in a position to do so, then great."

He went on: "It's been brilliant. I thought we had no chance after Aintree and I knew Willie would dig deep and keep finding plenty to run and we needed a few miracles. Vicente in the Scottish National last week gave us a big day and the others have been running well.

"The first one was special and this one is far and away the best, probably, we've had to fight and you don't want to give it up easily.

"When Kauto Star and Master Minded were winning, you'd win the trainers' championship by Christmas. Those horses carry you and possibly it doesn't have that much interest then, but the interest from the public and racing people in this has been good.

"There's been a lot of pressure for all of us, but hopefully it's been good for racing to get more interest in it.

"Willie is a fantastic trainer with fantastic horses, I have huge respect for him."

PA Media

The Throw-In: New era for Dublin, all up for grabs in the hurling league and club final heroics

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport