The Most Successful Trainers in the History of Cheltenham
The biggest race meet of the year is just around the corner and with the news that Willie Mullins declared two of his biggest hopes unfit for the festival, the eyes of the racing world are on Nicky Henderson as he bids to take back the crown that Mullins has held for the last four years.
The battle of the trainers at Cheltenham often seems to overshadow the true stars of the show, but it is, without doubt, a fascinating conflict and one that is sure to add to the top three’s current tally of festival winners.
Nicky Henderson – 55
Although Henderson has fallen behind his Irish counterpart Mullins in terms of success at individual meets, he is still the most successful trainer in the festival’s history. His 55 winners will mark him as one of the all-time greats, but his running battle with Willie Mullins has seen the Carlow-based Irish trainer take the plaudits in recent years.
In 2012 the Seven Barrows handler broke the record for most wins at a festival with seven of his horses coming in first. A record that wouldn’t stand for too long.
This year both Top Notch and Buveur D’Air are expected to bring home the goods but with racing anything is possible and while Henderson is unlikely to lose top spot with regards to overall wins, he may have a lot less breathing space between himself and Mullins come March 17th.
Willie Mullins – 48
Mullins started training horses in 1988 after working as assistant to his late father, the legendary Paddy Mullins. However, it wasn’t until 2011 that Mullins started making his mark on the festival finishing as the most successful trainer with four winners.
The following year, Henderson’s record-breaking haul of seven wins saw Mullins take a back seat, but since then he has been the most successful trainer at each festival. 2015 saw him break Henderson’s record with eight winners and the following year his total of seven proved it was no flash in the pan.
Unfortunately for Mullins, the recent news that both Faugheen and Min are unavailable for the meet casts a shadow over his chances of being named the festival’s most successful trainer for the fifth year in a row. Both horses had high expectations, and they are a huge loss to the trainer. However, a look at the race card for the Gold Cup shows us that Mullins is still in with a shout of claiming the biggest prize of the festival with both Djakadam and Vroum Vroum Mag running.
Paul Nicholls – 40
Equaling Fulke Walwyn’s record of 40 winners at last year’s festival, this year Nicholl’s hopes to gain ground on the dominant Henderson and Mullins. It’s not since 2009 that Nicholls was the most successful trainer at the festival finishing the meet with five winners, his biggest tally ever.
The Ditcheat based handler is this season’s national jump trainer to beat as he heads the current rankings ahead of Colin Tizzard in second and Nicky Henderson in third. A successful festival could see him win the title for the eleventh time, leaving him only four behind record holder Martin Pipe.
The 10-times champion jumps trainer won’t move up the rankings this year as Cheltenham’s most successful trainer, but with his current crop of young horses showing he has his eye on the 2018 season, who knows what the future will bring.