Who Was David Nicholson?

Commemorated by the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, run annually at the Cheltenham Festival, David Nicholson was the son of Herbert ‘Frenchie’ Nicholson, a renowned National Hunt jockey and trainer in the first half of the twentieth century. Nicknamed ‘The Duke’ from an early age, because of his aloof, sometimes arrogant, demeanour, David Nicholson was also a successful National Hunt jockey, with 583 winners to his name.

However, to a modern audience, David Nicholson is probably better known as one of the leading trainers of his generation. He turned to training at Condicote, Gloucestershire in 1968 and saddled his first winner, Arctic Coral, whom he also rode, at Warwick the following January. By the time of his retirement from the training ranks in 1999, Nicholson had saddled a total of 1,499 winners and won the National Hunt Trainers’ Championship twice, in 1993/94 and 1994/95. Indeed, he was the only trainer to interrupt the sequence of trainers’ titles won by Martin Pipe from 1989/90 onwards.

At the Cheltenham Festival, Nicholson saddled 17 winners, most notably winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Charter Party in 1988 and back-to-back renewals of the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Viking Flagship in 193 and 1995. Elsewhere, he also win the King George VI Chase at Kempton with Barton Bank in 1993 and was unlucky not to do so with the same horse in 1994; Barton Bank was clear of his rivals when blundering badly and unseating jockey Adrian Maguire at the final fence.