Paul Nicholls insisted he gained as much pleasure from winning his tenth trainers’ championship than any other.
With no apparent stable stars other than Silvinaico Conti, Nicholls considers the title which he claimed on a final day thriller at Sandown on Saturday is his sweetest.
In previous seasons, a succession of big Saturday winners enabled him to build up a huge advantage heading into the last day of the season.
This time it was different, with Willie Mullins starting the day a workable £53,592.54 behind, but after Nicholls filled the places in the bet365 Gold Cup with Just A Par (second) and Southfield Theatre (fourth) there was no doubt.
The consolation of winning the final race of the season with McKinley was to be just that for Mullins, who had narrowly missed out earlier with Valseur Lido and was second to the magnificent Sprinter Sacre with Un De Sceaux.
Nicholls – earning a total of £2,439,560.26 for the season to his rival’s £2,341,735.22 for victory by £97,825.04 – said: “It is a relief. There is a lot of pressure, because unlike before, it has created a lot of interest.
“Everyone has been willing us on and it was always a little bit Team GB versus Ireland, and Willie has had a magnificent time. Hats off to him for coming over and it has made things more interesting.
“I’m hopeful it has been really good for racing. We have all got stuck in, worked hard and got some great results.
“I thought I had no chance after Aintree to be honest. Vicente (Scottish Grand National) was a big day last week and all the horses have been going really well, just when you think it is over.
“There was a time between January and February when they were not going as we would have liked.
“When you have a chance, like a football team, you are going to try and win it – within reason. It has been good for the whole team, I hope it is good for everyone really and I hope it has been really good for racing to create that bit of interest, which I feel it has. Before it hasn’t meant that much.
“Some in the media say there is animosity between us, but that is absolute tripe. We get on well, he’s a competitor, I have huge respect for him and vice versa.
“He shook my hand and I shook his, so there is absolutely no truth in those stories at all.”