It's a family affair for Georgie and Olive Nicholls ahead of new season
Georgie Nicholls has been riding and training in Oxfordshire on and off since the late 1990s, originally under her maiden name of Browne.
Based at Kingston Lisle near Lambourn, she trains a string of five, including last year’s Mollington winner Old Guard, who daughter Olive – hoping to follow in the footsteps of famous father and multiple champion rules trainer Paul and older sister Megan in the saddle – expects to be among her first rides between the flags.
Jake Exelby spoke to mother and daughter before the start of the new season.
Georgie’s biggest success came on Game Gunner, a 100/1 winner of the Ladies Hunter Chase on Horse & Hound Cup day at Stratford in 2001.
"I’d never seen the horse before but said yes before I looked up the form – he was a nine-year-old twice raced maiden!
“The owner told me to just canter him round but trainer John Allen had got him really fit and there were only two in front of me approaching the last, and we got up on the line to win by a head.”
Georgie retired from the saddle as she got sent more horses to train, explaining, “I loved riding and didn’t want to stop, but I don’t think you can train and ride at the same time.”
As her pointing operation expanded, Georgie took out a licence at the age of 23 and enjoyed her biggest success when Phar Bleu, owned by the late Andy Stewart, won the Finale Hurdle at Chepstow in 2004 and, after a break from training in her own name when she married champion trainer Paul and moved to Ditcheat, Georgie returned to Kingston Lisle and the sport she grew up with when the relationship ended.
Olive turns 16 on December 13th and – while OId Guard won’t be ready to run that early, she has big plans for the Larkhill fixture the following Sunday.
“I’m hoping to ride Monsieur Gibraltar for Dad and also Sametegal, who’s now eligible to run in points.”
That’s a nice trio of mounts for the young lady!
Before I leave, I ask Georgie about a quote she gave – relating to a then four-year-old Olive – in an interview back in 2010, when she was Ambassador for Ladies Day at Cheltenham.
“Olive is very wilful and very brave, not frightened by anything. She'll take the bull by the horns and do just about anything.”
“It’s still pretty much true today!” her daughter replies on her behalf.