Horses To Follow » Rocky Creek

Rocky Creek

Rocky Creek wasn’t hugely visually impressive in winning the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot on Saturday, and three of his four rivals blundered their way out of the race, but there was a lot to like about the efficiency of his performance, and runner-up Houblon Des Obeaux is probably an under-rated horse who stays well. Also, the time was two seconds faster than the time that the now progressive Vino Griego clocked in winning the listed handicap chase over the same course and distance 35 minutes later in which there was a strong early pace.

Rocky Creek’s jumping, as it had been in all three of his previous runs over fences, was slick and accurate, if continually a little out to his left, which left the impression that he will be even better going back the other way around. He was travelling strongly over the third last and comfortably drew alongside Houblon Des Obeaux around the home turn. He edged ahead on the run to the second last fence, but he idled on the run to the final fence, which kept the winning margin down to a length and three quarters. He will be even better behind a stronger pace and in a bigger field, which will allow him deliver his challenge a little later.

Paul Nicholls took him out of the National Hunt Chase on Wednesday, but he remains an RSA Chase candidate, despite the desperate record of Reynoldstown winners in the RSA Chase. However, it looks likely that he will skip Cheltenham altogether, as Nicholls did with Silviniaco Conti last year, in which case he will warrant close consideration at Aintree against horses who will probably have had hard races at Cheltenham. Longer term, he looks the ideal strong, staying, progressive, young type of horse for the Hennessy at Newbury next November, a race that his trainer mentioned as a possible target. It would not be a surprise if his handicap mark of 152 is protected now.

16th February 2013