How the race for the British trainers’ championship is shaping up ahead of Grand National Festival

The recent Cheltenham Festival certainly made for some interesting changes in the British trainers’ championship standings. While Paul Nicholls maintained his position at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final month of the 2021-22 jump season, the 59-year-old is by no means guaranteed to win the accolade for an impressive 13th time — potentially closing the gap on Martin Pipe’s record (15) to just two.
The upcoming Grand National Festival, which is due to get underway at Aintree Racecourse in Merseyside on April 7th — concluding with the marathon race taking centre stage on the 9th — is where the title could be won and lost for the still trainers involved at this stage — with the overall victor set to be crowned the Champion Trainer at Sandown’s Jump Finale meeting on April 23rd.
So, with the ante-post horse racing betting markets starting to finally take shape ahead of the Grand National Festival, let’s take a look at the current British trainers’ championship standings — correct at the time of writing. Read on to find out more!

Paul Nicholls
Considering that defending champion Nicholls went winless at the prestigious Prestbury Park meeting last month, for the second year in a row, it’s scary to think that he is still Britain’s leading trainer — perhaps it’s no surprise, therefore, that the Irish have truly started to dominate proceedings at the Cheltenham Festival.
In his defence, the Somerset-based trainer always made it clear that he had one eye on the National meeting this year and he did pull Bravemansgame, his leading contender at the Festival, and McFabulous out of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase and the Coral Cup on day two due to the extreme weather.
Currently leading the way at the top of the leaderboard with £2,184,862 in prize money, from 126 winners, Bravemansgame is being tipped to win the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, Clan Des Obeaux is heavily backed to defend his Bowl crown, while several others, including McFabulous, Thyme White, Bob and Co and Simply The Betts, will also head to Liverpool.

Nicky Henderson
While Nicholls will have a fresher team than his rivals, you could argue Nicky Henderson’s contingent still arrives stronger. The Seven Burrows trainer kicked off the Festival in empathic style, with Constitution Hill putting in one of the performances of the week to streak clear of Jonbon in the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdles.
However, Marie’s Rock’s success in the Mares’ Hurdle was his only other victory of the week. Narrowly behind his British rival on £2,024,621 (112 winners), Henderson’s core Cheltenham squad will head to Aintree — with fan favourite and fantastic novice Jonbon arguably his star attraction for the Merseyside crowd.
Champ, fourth in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, could head for the Liverpool Hurdle, with stablemates Epatante, second only to Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle, and Buveur D’Air, who was well beaten on his seasonal reappearance at Kelso, set to cross paths in the Aintree Hurdle. Misty Fisher and Walking On Air will also likely make the trip.
Caribean Boy is the 71-year-old’s only entry in the Grand National, but he’d need to win from 50/1 to give Henderson the £500,000-winning prize purse.

Willie Mullins
A trainer that was fired into the British trainers’ championship race after a fantastic Cheltenham Festival, landing a record 10 victories in the horse racing results over the course of the four days, Willie Mullins has indicated that he would like to have a crack at winning his maiden Champion Trainer accolade — which hasn’t been won by an Irish native since 1954.
With just three winners on British soil prior to the Prestbury Park meeting, the 65-year-old bagged a whopping £1,273,783 in prize money to take him up to fourth in the leaderboard despite an overall tally of just 13 winners.
However, with the Punchestown Festival in April perhaps more appealing to Mullins, it’s not yet clear how strong of a team he will send back across the Irish Sea.
There is the potential for five winners in the Grand National though, with Burrows Saint (20/1), Brahma Bull, Class Conti, Stones And Roses and Augusta Gold — all 66/1 shots, respectively — still boasting entries.

Dan Skelton is currently third in the reckoning, with £1,846,163 in prize money. But he admitted that he’s not focused on the championship title due to the strength of Mullins and co.

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