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Mane of Thrones: Paul Nicholls v Willie Mullins in the battle for the UK Trainers’ Championship

“They can take my jockey but they’ll never take away my UK trainers’ title.”

It’s unlikely Paul Nicholls will get all William Wallace like if he retains his Champion Trainers’ title in Saturday’s climax at Sandown Park.

Nicholls, who saw top jock Ruby Walsh jump ship a few years from his Ditcheat stable to ride exclusively for Mullins, went into last weekend about a hundred grand behind rival Willie Mullins, after firing more blanks than Aston Villa this season at the money-laden Aintree Festival.

However, four winners last Saturday at Ayr – and another Yankee on Sunday – has Nicholls £53k ahead of the Irish trainer heading into Saturday’s finale.

 

Mullins is looking to become the first Irish jumps trainer since Vincent O’Brien (who later dominated the world of Flat racing) in 1953/54 to win the UK Jumps Trainers’ Championship.

The Co Carlow handler throws 10 darts at the board at Sandown including heavy hitters  Vroum Vroum Mag and Un De Sceaux who, if they win their respective races, could wipe out Nicholls’ lead and set the clock to zero again.

Nicholls has 19 entries at Sandown and would undoubtedly wish he could match the quality of Mullins’ two big guns at least as the title is decided on prize-money won not the amount of winners trained in a season.

There wouldn’t even be a contest if that was the case as the UK-based Nicholls unsurprisingly has saddled about 12o winners compared to Mullins’ 26 in the UK (Irish winners don’t count in this).

Nicholls can end the permutations early – and let Channel 4’s jumps coverage bow out on a high – if Southfield Theatre wins the feature race at 4.10pm and gives him an unassailable lead in the title race.

But both men will have to endure squeaky bum time before this title is decided.

 

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