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    Nicholls is in no doubt that "one day we will make it to 15"
Nicholls is in no doubt that "one day we will make it to 15"
Nicholls is in no doubt that "one day we will make it to 15". Source: attheraces.com

Nicholls is in no doubt that "one day we will make it to 15"

Paul Nicholls, who lost his attempt to win a record-tying 15th trainers' championship, has vowed to get back up and try again.

Over the last few decades, the master of Ditcheat has dominated the British National Hunt scene. He has topped the table 14 times in 18 years, and the only person to defeat him during that time is six-time champion Nicky Henderson.

For a large portion of the previous season, Nicholls was once again in the lead, but he lost it when his former assistant Dan Skelton won four races at the Cheltenham Festival. Willie Mullins then overtook both of them as a result of I Am Maximus's victory in the Grand National at Aintree.

Mullins then set his lead with an Ayr four-timer that included Macdermott's Scottish National victory. To cap off an amazing campaign, Mullins secured a final-day double at Sandown with Minella Cocooner in the bet365 Gold Cup and Impaire Et Passe in the Select Hurdle.

While Nicholls had to settle for an honourable third-place finish in the final standings, he is confident that he will become champion once again. Mullins becomes the first Irish-based trainer to be crowned top dog in Britain since the famous Vincent O'Brien.

He said: “We’ve knocked on the door in quite a number of big races and that has made it hard, but I’ve been in the incredibly lucky position of winning 14 titles and we will make it 15 one day. No team can keep winning the Premier League every year and it all depends on the players you have – and we just need to get a few more players in the team and up the squad a bit and we will be back. It’s a near-miss this year, but we have had over 130 winners, which is our most, and at a good strike-rate. We have also won very nearly £3 million in prize-money – if we did that every year, we would be very happy.”

According to Nicholls, Mullins' victory at the Grand National was ultimately the deciding factor:  “I could see it happening and the Grand National was always going to be pivotal. The Grand National did me a big favour once with Neptune Collonges when I was trailing Nicky and Nicky looked like being champion – Neptune Collonges won and it was all over. I’ve been concentrating on making Harry Cobden champion jockey and that has always been my sole aim this year. It would have been great if I was champion again, but we’ll move on and next year is already another year and I’m already excited for next season. Poor old Dan (Skelton) is feeling it a little bit, as he always thought the first time he finished ahead of me, he would be a champion trainer – and then Willie came along and trumped us both.”

Even though Nicholls is sure he will win back his title eventually, he acknowledges that  to compete at the greatest level, he needs to strengthen his lineup.

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