Paul Nicholls has rated Cyrname’s victory at Ascot as the performance of what has been an unexpected title-winning season.
Paul Nicholls concedes he didn’t think he had the ammunition to stop Nicky Henderson’s ‘awesome team’ in this year’s British Trainers’ Championship.
The Ditcheat supremo will be crowned champion at Sandown on Saturday afternoon for the 11th time in his career.
It is his first title since the titanic 2015/16 battle with Willie Mullins that went all the way to the wire on the same Sandown card, but the drama won’t be as tense now as Henderson – champion for the previous two seasons – cannot catch his long-time rival.
Reflecting on what it means to be champion once more, Nicholls suggests he simply didn’t think he could out-do the Seven Barrows masses.
“I honestly didn’t think I could win the title this season, because I thought Nicky had an awesome team,” he said.
“I meant it when I said that we weren’t really thinking about it.
“We always try to achieve the best with what we have got – but I thought Nicky would be incredibly hard to beat.
“As it has turned out, we have had a fantastic season. It is great to get back at the top again – and of course, it means a lot to us.”
The early season momentum for his yard was supplemented as the likes of Cyrname, Clan Des Obeaux and Topofthegame pocketed Grade One prizes, the ones that have made all the difference.
Two of them came at the Cheltenham Festival, while Nicholls has also recently saddled his 3,000th British jumps winner but it was Cyrname’s Ascot success in February that thrilled the trainer most.
“Cyrname winning the Grade One at Ascot was probably the performance of the season. On that form alone, he deserves to be the highest rated horse on that one run over that distance,” he added.
Nicholls will be hoping to cap his season with a winner or two at Sandown, where Getaway Trump is 10/3 with Betfred to land the opening race under stable jockey Harry Cobden.
Later on, Bryony Frost, such a part of the Nicholls success story these days, partners Black Corton in the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase and they are 9/4 for a much-deserved win after a season of near misses.
Odds subject to change.