Nicholls was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2020 New Year Honours list for his services to the horse racing industry, with the ceremony delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
As a jockey Paul Nicholls was very successful winning the Hennessy Gold Cup (now Ladbrokes Trophy) twice in successive years on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), with the latter also winning the Welsh National and Irish Hennessy. His jockey career was cut short in 1989 through a badly broken leg but within a couple of years had taken out his trainer licence.
He responded to a newspaper advert placed by Paul Barber to train out of his Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset, and the rest is history. In 1993 he trained his first Grade One with See More Indians and since then has trained some of the greatest racehorses of National Hunt racing including Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Big Buck’s.
He has won the trainer’s championship 12 times in his career.
On recieveing his OBE Paul Nicholls said “It’s been a very nice day. I obviously couldn’t have imagined when starting out all those years ago there would be a day like today. It just goes to show that I’ve been supported by great family, great owners, a great team and some great horses and all of that puts it together. I feel very lucky and very privileged and I really enjoyed the day, it was good, it was a fantastic day. I felt very honoured to be there representing racing.”