Richard Johnson - a lovely success on Reve De Sivola
©Healy Racing Photos
Reve De Sivola bounced back to his best with a wide margin success in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.
Nick Williams' string has hit top form over the past fortnight and his seven year old took full advantage of the absence of Big Buck's in the Grade One feature.
Richard Johnson, riding in place of the suspended Daryl Jacob, was always prominent in the three mile contest as he and Kayf Aramis ensured that this was going to be a proper test in the ground.
Around 20 lengths clear on the first circuit, the field had closed right up passing the stands for the first time and when they reached Swinley Bottom on the second circuit, only around eight lengths covered the field.
Prospect Wells already looked to be struggling at that point and the challengers started to drop away one by one and as the field turned for home Master Of The Hall and Trustan Times cried enough leaving Smad Place as the only possible danger.
Reve De Sivola was springheeled at the second last as a tired Smad Place paddled through the flight and the writing was on the wall.
Another good leap at the last put the seal on the race as Reve De Sivola routed his rivals by 14 lengths.
A smart novice hurdler, the winner failed to translate that form to chasing but gave signal of a possible return to form when reverting to hurdling on his seasonal reappearance when finishing nine lengths behind Big Buck's.
Williams said: "He's probably a better hurdler than a chaser, and his first run back was after recovering from an injury.
"It worked out nicely today as he had plenty of space and it was an impressive performance.
"We will go for the World Hurdle, but I always injure horses at Cheltenham - it's not my favourite course and he wants heavy ground, but he will have to take his chance.
"We will see how he is, as he doesn't necessarily have to have another run."
Alan King said of runner-up Smad Place, who stepped up on his returning third in the John Smith's Hurdle at Wetherby: "I was delighted with him, he handles heavy ground well but probably doesn't stay three-miles-one on it.
"It was better than Wetherby and he could either go for the Cleeve or the National Spirit at Fontwell before the World Hurdle."
The Ladbrokes World Hurdle is up for grabs with Paul Nicholls' star out for the season and Sky Bet cut the winner to 10/1 from 33s for that contest with the Leeds' firm's Michael Shinners commenting: "With no other targets, his only option is probably the World Hurdle and you would have to respect his chance after this performance."