When you look at the recent winners of the National Hunt Trainer’s Title it has clearly been dominated in recent years by just the two people with Paul Nicholls victorious on ten occasions and Nicky Henderson three in the last thirteen years. Martin Pipe was the main man before that in fifteen of the previous seventeen years prior to his retirement. The World moves on regardless and with the Nicholls stable lacking the firepower of previous years, Nicky Henderson (1/6) is heavily odds on to retain his title from last season, and with the likes of Buveur D’Air, Altior, and Might Bite in the yard (to name but three), he is going to prove more than just difficult to unseat from his throne. His horses will no doubt make a huge impact on our ITV Racing Tips as the winter starts to unfold.
Paul Nicholls might seem an unlikely challenger to the title holder but he helped to educate plenty of those coming through the ranks with the potential to shake up the old guard in the years ahead and to challenge in the near future if not this year.
Dan Skelton. The first name on most people’s lips in recent years and very much a man on the up in the training ranks. Dan combines the requisite skills as a trainer with the fire and work ethic required to get to the very top and is fast gaining a reputation for expertly placing his horses and once the owners with the deeper pockets come on board to buy the quality of horse needed to compete at the top he will be in a better position to mount a serious challenge.
Harry Fry. Another who learnt his trade working with Paul Nicholls and who is beginning to rise to the top of the training ranks with the assistance of jockey Noel Fehily who he uses whenever possible. A quiet unassuming character who holds your attention with his knowledge and laid-back demeanour, Harry is now attracting owners such as JP McManus plus Paul and Clare Rooney adding stronger and classier horses to his string and facilities many would be jealous of, his rise seems sure to continue over the months and years ahead.
Olly Murphy. Only a youngster in trainer terms at the age of twenty-six but he learnt his trade in Ireland with Gordon Elliott and has replicated some of his facilities at home in Stratford with a half-mile sand gallop to add to the seven-furlong Fibresand. His father is close to the top of the bloodstock agents’ tree at the winter game which can only help him further his lofty ambitions. Although it won’t happen overnight – if we were to bet on which one of these would get to take home a title in the next ten years – the ambitious Olly would be the one we would want to be on once the wealthier owners are acquainted with his immense talent.
Fergal O’Brien. Fergal trains right next to the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable (where he was head lad for 18 years) and is rapidly making a big name for himself both within the industry and with the betting public. Quiet and unassuming Fergal likes to get on with the job and with the likes of Master Dee and Perfect Candidate in his stable he looks all set for another big season. Owners have and are sitting up and taking notice of his results which in turn gives him the remit to buy on their behalf at some of the better sales.
Evan Williams. It would be fair to say he would be the outsider on this list to take over as Champion trainer one day, but it will not be for lack of effort and good old-fashioned hard work. Whether training in Wales is a negative or a positive is for others to decide but it isn’t in the centre of the United Kingdom or Lambourn , but that hasn’t stopped him racking up close to £200,000 of prize money already this season with Market Road one of his more interesting handicappers, with a decent strike rate and every chance of a further win or two this season once the rain comes and the going gets on the heavy side. He also has one of our five future national hunt stars from the 2018 summer sales in his yard.