CHAMPION trainer Paul Nicholls led the tribute to his “great friend” and longtime ally Paul Barber, who has passed away at the age of 80.
Barber was Nicholls’ landlord on his farm in Ditcheat and an extremely successful racehorse owner.
His famous silk medals were twice worn to victory at the Gold Cup, first by See More Business in 1999 and later by legendary pursuer Denman in 2008.
He was also owner or part-owner of the top chasers Clan Des Obeaux, Topofthegame, See More Indians and Call Equiname.
Nicholls told the Racing Post: “I’ve been with Ditcheat for 32 years this summer and we’ve had a great time since the day I first called to set up an interview for the yard.
“I would have seen him every day except when I was away and also talked to him almost every day.”
“He was always there in the background and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without his help and advice.
“Back when I started in 1991, you didn’t have to do any training modules and learn how to run a business, you just get your driver’s license and some horses and go for it.”
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“I wanted to make it a success and it was his advice on so many things that made me grow; To sum it up: He was a brilliant businessman, a brilliant family man and a great athlete.
“I was really lucky that I had two fathers: Brian, my father and Paul. They have played equally important roles in my life.”
“We had a great friendship and I don’t think we’ve had a crossword puzzle in all our years together.”
Former jockey turned ITV broadcaster Mick Fitzgerald, who won the Gold Cup with See More Business, echoed Nicholls’ views.
He said: “I was very fortunate to ride a Gold Cup winner for Paul and I know what it meant to him.”
“To be at the helm of See More Business as Paul ushered him into the winners’ enclosure the day after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a memory that will be remembered forever.”
“It’s one of my proudest days in the saddle and I’ve just had the privilege of riding the horse.”
“I know what it meant to him to have a Gold Cup winner and I think that’s how I want to remember Paul Barber.”
“He was a man who loved what Paul Nicholls was doing at Ditcheat, he was very proud of what Paul achieved – I know that.”
“They were very good friends and Paul was a tenant and I know it meant a lot to him to have Paul as his coach and he was very proud that Paul was also a champion coach on so many occasions.”
“My heart goes out to (his wife) Marianne and the entire Barber family at this time.”