Rocky Creek takes Ascot Grade 2
Winning jockey and trainer, Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls
(Healy Racing Photos)
It proved to be quite hard work for the Paul Nicholls-trained 8/13 favourite but, in truth, he never really looked like relinquishing his advantage in the closing stages despite the renewed efforts of runner-up Houblon Des Obeaux.
There was early drama with Real Milan pulled up at Swinley Bottom after making a horlicks of the fourth and the field was reduced to three when outsider Turtlethomas fell.
The three remaining runners were tightly grouped passing the post for the first time and for much of the final circuit but two became three four from home when a bad mistake from Tour Des Champs put paid to his chances.
Ruby Walsh went about a neck up on the turn for home and had extended that to around a length going into the second last where he allowed Rocky Creek to edge out to his left.
The seven year old, who has now won his last three starts over fences, also jumped out to his left at the final fence but had enough in reserve to keep his sole challenger at bay by a length and a quarter.
Walsh told Channel 4 Racing: "I was aware the other two had gone. We hadn't gone that quick and it was a bit messy.
"He's probably a better horse going the other way (left-handed). He jumped a bit to the left and I was in front about an hour and a half too soon.
"He was doing enough in front and he almost pulled himself up going to the last but then he went away again. He stays and jumps really well."
Speaking from Wincanton, Nicholls said: "I'm not totally convinced about Cheltenham. We haven't got a plan for him as such and I need to talk to talk to Ruby.
"He's a baby and he needs time. I'm not in a mega rush with him and, like Silviniaco Conti, I think he could be next year's horse when we would maybe look at the Hennessy."
Rocky Creek was left unchanged at 12/1 by Sky Bet for the RSA Chase at next month's Cheltenham Festival.