Remembering the horses who helped crown the sprint king
Branded the sprint king by the racing public, David Nicholls was renowned for taking ordinary looking horses and improving them into Pattern race performers. Here are four horses which helped shape his career as a jockey and then trainer
Like her rider she came from humble beginnings, but went on to become one of the top sprinters of her generation. Guided by David Chapman and ridden by Nicholls she won 11 races and rose four stone in the ratings in an epic season in 1982 when her victories included the Gosforth Park Cup, Stewards' Cup and the Scarbrough Stakes at Doncaster.
Were it not for Habibti, who beat in four Group 1s she would have been the champion sprinter of 1983. Much to the regret of Chapman and Nicholls, she was retired at the end of that season after her owner Muriel Hills had entered into a foal-share scheme with top owner Robert Sangster. However, she never bred anything that came near to being as good as she was.
Bred by Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, he won a maiden at Chantilly for Pascal Bary before being sold to join the Nicholls team for 40,000gns at Tattersalls in October 2000 at the end of his three-year-old career.
His first win for new owners the Lucayan Stud was in the following year's Ayr Gold Cup and he went on to win the following season's July Cup and Prix de l'Abbaye. He won seven of his 70 races and over £426,000 in prize-money.
An American-bred, he joined Nicholls at Tall Trees Stables midway through his three-year-old season, having show little in two runs in Ireland. He was a late-maturer for his first win was not until the following August when he won a 6f maiden at Ripon and his first handicap win was the following May when as a five-year-old he won off a mark of 62 at Carlisle.
He had gone up to 86 when he won the Ayr Gold Cup four months later and was 96-rated when he won a Listed event at Newmarket. Runner-up to his stablemate Continent in the 2002 July Cup, he became a Group 1 winner when beating former stablemate The Tatling by a neck in the 2004 Nunthorpe at York. When he retired in 2007 he had won 12 of his 104 races and amassed just short of £500,000.
A remarkably tough and resilient campaigner who raced for only part of his 104-race career for Nicholls. Bought by John Ferguson for 430,000gns as a yearling, he was picked up by Nicholls for just 16,000gns at the end of his three-year-old career in 2007 despite having won three races and having a rating of 86.
His first win for his new connections was the Buckingham Palace Handicap at Royal Ascot in June the following year and his second was the Ayr Gold Cup off a mark of 99 three months later.
He was another to graduate to Pattern success by winning the 2009 Haydock Sprint and then in 2010 the Prix Maurice de Gheest. At the conclusion of the 2016 Flat season, having moved yards on a couple more occasions, his winnings totalled £779,000.