With 16 horses left in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, we liken each contender to their most similar Premier League team.
Native River - Manchester City. The reigning champion, steered by the best in the business. Things didn’t look so rosy at the midpoint of the season, but conditions are in his favour now and a strong finish is expected.
Presenting Percy - Liverpool. Sparkles of brilliance last season including this time last year and favourite for much of this campaign. However, gone missing recently and the consensus now is that he might just fall short.
Clan Des Obeaux - Spurs. Superbly managed this campaign despite lacking the title-chasing experience of Native River. Looked very classy at times but still has to go and do it at the business end of the season.
Kemboy - Arsenal. Exuberant sort who was very easy on the eye when winning at the top level over Christmas. Has faltered at this stage before, notably at Cheltenham 12 months ago, but has the class to beat anyone on his day.
Bellshill - Manchester United. Had a big reputation when he burst onto the scene but a distinct lack of Festival silverware for one of his ability. 5th in the Irish National last season under a different pilot but the main man is back on top now and his recent form is as good as anyone’s.
Might Bite - Everton. Half of his problems seem to be between the ears - it’s questionable whether he has the big-game mentality. Had a poor season but still has his supporters for some reason.
Thistlecrack - Wolves. Romped to victory at a lesser level in the past and has the class to frighten the big boys. On balance, though, a title charge seems fanciful.
Elegant Escape - Southampton. Could well avoid relegation playing the right way but well beaten by Presenting Percy last season and being outpaced at a crucial stage looks a real possibility.
Al Boum Photo - West Ham. Has it in him to veer off course (see Punchestown) and lets himself down with the odd iffy performance. Mid-table obscurity beckons.
Shattered Love - Crystal Palace. Has an obvious star player and has it in her to beat Native River on her day. Probably should be more respected than she is but whether she’ll see out the full 90 minutes the question mark.
Bristol De Mai - Leicester City. Reached heady heights against the odds a few years ago with a remarkable Betfair Chase win that elevated him to the big time. Not quite matched that achievement since and faltered at Christmas but a few recent changes give renewed hope for optimism.
Invitation Only - Watford. Full of potential and the feeling is he could win a big trophy one year. Backed by wealthy connections and has a certain flair, but the feeling is he’s not quite ready just yet.
Anibale Fly - Newcastle. Has just fallen short in a title race before and JP would love it if he beat these. Recent home form has been tremendous but doesn’t possess the class of the big guns.
Definitly Red - Bournemouth. Punches above his weight, mainly in small fields, and will fight to the end. Classy enough not to go down, but doesn’t quite have the talent to expect anything other than a mid-table finish.
Double Shuffle - Fulham. A nice horse who can run above himself in London at Christmas, but he’s essentially a handicapper. Looks a division below this lot.
Yala Enki - Huddersfield. Ran above himself last season, winning at Haydock, but the wheels have come off this campaign after early promise. Looks out of his depth in this and deserves outsider of the field status.
Already Relegated (Non Runners)
Frodon - Chelsea. Won plenty of silverware in recent years especially at this track and would be greatly respected if turning up. Heads turned by an easier assignment and he romped to glory in that..
Road To Respect - Burnley. Admirable, but now playing in a different competition. The manager greatly respected, though. Also wear similar colour shirts.
Monalee - Brighton. Solid outfit with plenty of good qualities but probably out of his depth in this and his best chance of silverware was in another competition, but he didn't come up to scratch in that.
Balko Des Flos - Cardiff. Won at a lesser level in a weak renewal but big question marks over ability/stamina in this field, so no surprise he didn't turn up.