While we may only be a little way into the new jumps season, the Trainer Championship is looking particularly good. For Dan Skelton that it! Paul Nicholls former assistant has taken the racing world by storm and is giving the big guys a run for their money.
He currently sits in second place on the table on total earnings of just over £794K. Nicky Henderson is just slightly behind on £657K. The main difference between the two is that while Henderson has sent out fewer runners and winners, he has a higher win rate. He is on 22%, so 56 wins from 253 runners. Dan Skelton is on an 18% win rate with 72 wins from 393 runners.
But beating them all, and it should come as no surprise is Paul Nicholls. Clear across the board he is well on his way to another championship with earnings to date in this season, topping £1.34m. And it’s only December!
He also has the highest win rate on 27% which is 99 winners from 371 runners.
This has been a tricky year for those involved in horse racing. Last year, the Trainers Championship table also included plenty of big Irish names such as Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins. However, with travel across the sea almost impossible, they don’t even feature this time around.
Interestingly, there are other trainers currently in contention on very good win rates. Fergal O’Brien, Kim Bailey and Tom Symonds are all on a very reputable 20%. However, they have sent out significantly fewer runners, so their earnings are lower, pushing them further down the table.
Back in 2018, Paul Nicholls won the Trainers Championship with 135 wins from 589 runners. That was slightly more than Nicky Henderson on 544, and a lot less than Dan Skelton on 988. All three had relatively similar win rates. So what ultimately is the main difference?
It is the prize money. Trainers who perform particularly well in the higher class races, win more money. It’s that simple. A trainer can send out a 1000 runners and win half of them but if the targeted prize money is low they won’t win the Championship. To really compete for the Championship, a trainer needs to win a couple of big Cheltenham Festival or King George-like races.
Quality Over Quantity
As an example, in the 2018/19 season Colin Tizzard ended on a rather poor 11% win rate (77 wins). But some of the races he did win were huge. So much so that he notched up just shy of £2 million. And that put him on 4th place in the trainer’s table.
This only reaffirms that like all good things, including slots kingdom, it is quality over quantity that makes the final difference. With so few huge purses to be won over the course of a season, the competition is fierce. As a result, only seven trainers surpassed the £1 million mark in earnings last season. And there are literally hundreds of trainers in the country. More than 800 at last count.
Can Paul Nicholls keep the top spot? Honestly, it’s highly likely. He has just bagged his 12th win in the King George with Frodon and Bryony Frost and his hand for Cheltenham looks just as impressive.
He had to hand his Championship crown over to Nicky Henderson last season but he may just be back on course to take it back again.