Paul Nicholls: ‘You can’t be thinking about the trainers’ championship at this time of year’

Politilogue and Harry Skelton win the Queen Mother Champion Chase to secure another big-race win for Paul Nicholls. (Pic: Courtesy of Cheltenham Racecourse).

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PAUL Nicholls said it is far too early in the season to start planning challenges for the national hunt trainers’ championship which he has won 11 times.

The Ditcheat handler first won the trainers’ championship in the 2005-06 season and retained the title for the next six seasons before Nicky Henderson secured the championship in 2012-13.

Nicholls and Henderson have dominated for the past seven seasons, with the score four titles to three to Nicholls who was second to Henderson in last year’s shortened season, which effectively ended on March 17 when racing in the UK was suspended.

Lambourn-based Henderson won £2,533,862 in prize money to finish £192,550 ahead of Nicholls – whose victories included the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Politologue – and earlier this week said he had a “big team and a lot of nice horses” for the current campaign.

“You never chase the championship,” Nicholls said. “You can’t do that. We just do what we normally do.

“Interestingly, this time last year going into Chepstow, I think we’d had five winners and we were 23rd in the championship. We’d had a slow start, this year we’ve already had 16 winners and well up the table, so we’ve had a good base to start this year.

“Things are a little bit different because of what’s happened in no racing in June and July, but we’re in a good place to start off next week at Chepstow.

“It’s where we always kick off and then we’re going to have plenty of runners to run after that,” Nicholls told Betfair’s Racing Only Bettor podcast.

“We’ve got a big team, a lot of nice horses, but you can’t be thinking of trainers’ championship at this time of year.

“You’ve just got to get a good base and let’s see what happens. It’s really after Cheltenham it gets really serious and of course, yes, we’d love to win the championship, of course we would, but so would Nicky and so would Dan Skelton and other people.

“It’s just the way everybody is, but you’ve just got to train the horses really for the right races, doing the right thing, and everything else follows.”

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