When it comes to standing up and being counted, Nicky Henderson can proudly say his team have done exactly that after he was crowned the 2017/18 Champion Jump Trainer for the fifth time at Sandown Park on Saturday.
While it may not have all been plain sailing, the Seven Barrows handler can look back at what has been another memorable season, which was rubber-stamped by a four-timer at the Esher track highlighted by the victory of Altior in the bet365 Celebration Chase.
He said: “They have delivered. Like always, you have your ups and downs and it started with downs before ups when we had to stop with Altior.
“That was a pity, really, as it took him out of the first half the season and it was a rush to get him ready for Cheltenham, but it has been good.
“It has been a long, wet winter and it has been hard work, but I’ve got a great team that has in some ways swam their way through it and we are now out at the other end.
“Everything was good, the horses have been good across the board. Might Bite, Altior and Buveur D’Air had to show up again and they did, within reason.”
He added: “It’s not been easy (winning the title once more), as Cheltenham had to go to plan. Cheltenham was good and that put us at a bit of an advantage and plenty more came in at Aintree.
“It wasn’t until the Scottish National was over, that is when we thought we were safe.”
In a season which has produced no fewer than 13 Grade One victories and a prize-money total in excess of £3.3million, there is one moment for Henderson that ranks above all others – from a horse he hopes will continue to prosper at the top level for the foreseeable future.
He said: “I think Might Bite’s performance at Aintree was the outstanding moment as he came back from such a battle at Cheltenham (runner-up in the Gold Cup) and to come back from that was a great performance.
“Altior (Champion Chase) and Buveur D’Air (Champion Hurdle) were great at Cheltenham and if picking other moments they would be two other highlights.”
The likes of Might Bite, Buveur D’Air and Altior are likely to grab most of the headlines next season, but Henderson feels he has plenty of ammunition in his ranks to step up and become the next household names of National Hunt racing.
He said: “They (Altior, Buveur D’Air and Might Bite) have to deliver on the big stage and if you have got them you are the guy that is under pressure, but they have been great.
“They are still young and some pretty good ones have come through with them, like Santini, We Have A Dream and Terrefort. There is plenty to back them up.
“I think Santini could be a very exciting novice chaser and I think he could be a very exciting horse.”
With an impressive armoury to go to war with next season, there is every chance the title could be kept in Lambourn for another 12 months, although those thoughts are the last thing on the mind of Henderson for the moment.
He said: “It’s not the objective to win the title. You start the year with what you have got and see how it goes. You give it a go and it either comes or it doesn’t.”