Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, two of National Hunt racing’s biggest names, have both received an OBE in the New Year Honours list.
The two hugely successful trainers have been responsible for many of the modern-day winners of all Britain’s highest-profile jumps races.
Nicholls, 11-times champion trainer to Henderson’s five titles, exceeded 3,000 British winners in April this year – and stands third in the all-time list behind only Henderson and record-holder Martin Pipe.
The two great rivals’ mammoth combined tally contains the likes of Nicholls’ brilliant Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Kauto Star and Denman – as well as his sole Grand National hero Neptune Collonges and a first Gold Cup with See More Business – while Henderson has provided multiple Champion Hurdle victors See You Then and Buveur D’Air.
Henderson has also housed two Gold Cup winners, in Long Run and Bobs Worth, as well as this century’s two pre-eminent two-mile Champion chasers Altior and Sprinter Sacre.
The pair are honoured for services to horse racing at one of the busiest times in the National Hunt calendar, with Nicholls claiming the King George VI Chase for a record-breaking 11th time at Kempton on Boxing Day through Clan Des Obeaux.
Henderson was not represented this year, but has three King George wins to his credit.
On receiving his OBE, Nicholls, 57, said: “It’s a great achievement, and I’m really honoured and proud.
“It’s credit to everybody really, because I couldn’t do it without all the brilliant staff and owners we have.
“I always say I’m just a part of Team Ditcheat – and this is for all of them.”
Henderson, 69, who began his training career back in 1978, was equally thrilled.
He said: “It is a huge honour. We’ve been doing this a long time, and I love the game, and the game has been very good to us. It is very nice we have been recognised in this way. It certainly doesn’t mean I’m retiring either!
“It is slightly different to having a big winner. Two years ago, the Queen gave us an honour with an LVO, which is a personal one from the Queen. I think this is more so from the people, which is nice, and it is an honour to our team really.
“I don’t think it necessarily belongs to me, I think it belongs to Seven Barrows – but you can’t have Seven Barrows OBE, so I’m afraid it goes down to NJ Henderson.
“We’ve been very lucky all round. We have had some wonderful owners from the word go, and still have and still love it.”
He added: “Forty years (training) is quite a sentence! It was about three weeks ago when we heard about it, and it is very nice, but it really belongs to the team.
“I’ve been involved in all sorts of parts of racing. I came out of the political side, having done about 20 years with the NTF (National Trainers Federation), but I’ve done a few other things with charity and I think that has played a part of it. They are bits we enjoy doing.
“We get a lot out of it, but we try to put a bit back in. We like to try to put whatever we can back, because there is no doubt we get a lot of pleasure out of it.”
Prominent owner Graham Wylie is also recognised in the list, being awarded a knighthood for services to business and charity.
Three-time World Hurdle winner Inglis Drever famously carried the colours of Wylie and his wife, Andrea, along with the likes of Grade One heroes Nichols Canyon, Bellshill, Yorkhill, Tidal Bay and Voix Du Reve.
Wylie was one of the original founders of software company Sage as well as Technology Services Group. He also set up the Graham Wylie Foundation, which benefits children and young people in the north east.