The battle to be crowned this season’s champion jumps trainer in the UK is similar to Chelsea and Tottenham’s struggle for the Premier League title.
Like Spurs, Paul Nicholls’ squad at Ditcheat is greater than the sum of its parts, and they will be fighting for every scrap of prize money on offer as the season reaches its climax at Sandown on Saturday.
However, Nicky Henderson plays the part of Antonio Conte well and, in the shape of the top-class Altior, Henderson’s galaxy of stars includes a talent of Eden Hazard-like proportions.
Graceful and capable of sheer brilliance on his day, Altior appears to face a penalty kick in the Celebration Chase (3pm) and can seal the championship for Seven Barrows by thumping Champion Chase winner Special Tiara.
Nicholls fields his very own Harry Kane in opposition – the prolific marksman San Benedeto – but the gap between them seems much too great.
Neil Mulholland is now firmly established in the top tier of the National Hunt game. Sitting safely in 14th place in the trainer’s table, his attentions will instead be focused on this weekend’s Cup Final, the bet365 Gold Cup (3.35pm).
Last year’s winner The Young Master, Doing Fine and The Druids Nephew form a three-pronged attack, with the latter looking particularly well-treated from a mark 10 lb lower than when fifth in this race 12 months ago.
Philip Hobbs looks set to finish just outside the Champions League places this year, but will be hopeful that the exciting Triumph Hurdle winner Defi du Seuil can propel him back into the very top level of competition in 2017/18.
Hobbs will be trying to end the season with a flourish on Saturday and is responsible for fan favourite, Menorah, the winner of the last two renewals of the Oaksey Chase (2.25pm).
The 12-year-old is well into the veteran stage of his career and might be found trying to manufacture a move to the MLS this summer.
But he’s fancied to complete his hat-trick in this race, on a day when Richard Johnson will be crowned champion jockey for the second year in succession.
Finally, Beat That makes his return after 28 months off the track in the Select Hurdle (4.10pm), having endured as much luck with injuries in that time as Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge.
Sturridge was deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea, but champion-elect Henderson has kept the faith in this half-brother to Might Bite, who looked a very smart prospect when landing Grade 1s at both Aintree and Punchestown in 2014.
Henderson is also responsible for L’Ami Serge here, who much like Diego Costa, has found his considerable talent overshadowed by problems with his attitude in the past.