Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins, the respective British and Irish champion jumps trainers, will be the recipients of the select team of horses Graham Wylie plans to keep in training.
The move comes after the four-year ban from the sport imposed on Wylie’s principal trainer Howard Johnson, who subsequently announced his retirement, and the millionaire owner intends to drastically cut his string to just 20 horses.
Quwetwo, Ascendant, Doeslessthanme, Double Expresso, Hold Fast and The Knoxs had already joined Nicholls prior to Johnson’s suspension, and another seven, including 2008 Arkle hero Tidal Bay, will take their place in the team at Ditcheat.
Wylie will have horses trained in Ireland for the first time, with the exciting Back In Focus among those to join Mullins in County Carlow.
“I’m going down to 20 horses and I will only have two trainers. I’ll have the best in the UK, which is Paul Nicholls, and the best in Ireland, which is Willie Mullins,” Wylie said.
“Paul will have 13 of the horses and Willie will train seven.
“Willie is going to have Back In Focus, Boston Bob, Felix Yonger, On His Own, Prince De Beauchene, Drive Time and Rupert Lamb.
“Paul has six horses already for me and the other seven are Tidal Bay, Tigre D’Aron, Zhakiera Spirit, Prospect Wells, Frankie Figg, Roger Beantown and Grandioso.
“All the rest of my horses will be going to the sales. I’m looking forward to the season.”
Nicholls is delighted to welcome Wylie’s horses to the yard and may prepare the enigmatic Tidal Bay for a second tilt at the Grand National.
The 10-year-old made it as far as the 10th fence before unseating his jockey in the Aintree spectacular in April.
“It’s great to have him on board. Graham had already sent us six and he has a half-share in a horse with Andy Stewart. He’s now sending another seven and it’s great he’s joined us,” said Nicholls.
“Tidal Bay is getting on a bit but it will be nice to have in the yard and we might train him for the National and hopefully pick up a nice race somewhere.
“There are some nice youngsters coming down as well, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Mullins said: “I’m delighted to have been considered and I’m hoping I have as much luck for Mr Wylie as Howard Johnson had for him.
“Mr Wylie told me which horses were coming over this morning and I recognise most of them. There seems to be some good quality there, which is great.
“I haven’t seen any of them yet so we’ll get them over in the next week or so and see how they get on before we make any plans.”