Paul Nicholls has admitted he feels a pang of sympathy for Dan Skelton if, as looks likely, Willie Mullins goes on to beat the pair to become champion trainer.

Nicholls needs one more title to draw level with Martin Pipe on 15, while Skelton is chasing his first crown.

However, having won the Grand National at Aintree with I Am Maximus and the Scottish version with Macdermott, Mullins now has a cushion of almost £180,000 with a week to go.

A numbers game

Nicholls told Betfair: “All credit to him, he’s got a big team of people and horses, particularly horses, and it’s become a bit of a numbers game. The numbers they can produce to run across the board is immense really. It’s a job to compete with that.

“I remember back in the years I had all those good ones and you’d win the trainers’ championship just by winning those big races. The last few years, it has just been about getting the best out of your team.

“Now it’s very difficult. If you win all those big races, like Champion Hurdles and Gold Cups and Grand Nationals, you are going to be champion trainer with a small number of runners. It’s not going to get any easier with the number of horses and the class of horses they have at their disposal.

“It’s an amazing feat to do but with the ammunition they’ve got, and the numbers, we’re up against it.

Not a normal year

“I feel a bit for Dan because he said to me on Saturday that he thought the first time he’d beat me in the trainers’ championship, he’d be champion – well he hasn’t yet, because we’ve got Saturday and I’m not too far behind him, so I’m not going to let him rest on his laurels – but in a normal year, he’d be champion trainer.

“He could end up finishing second having beaten me and I know he’s mortified, but he’s had a good season and he’ll get his chance another day.”