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Paul Nicholls: My future plans for Rocky Creek and Fago

Rocky Creek has developed into a very smart novice chaser

"Rocky Creek travelled and won really impressively at Warwick, and he will obviously be given an entry in the Sun Alliance."

Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls outlines his future plans for two of his recent impressive winners, Rocky Creek and Fago...

I was on holiday last week, so I missed last weekend's Sunday Forum on ATR.

But I gather that when The Times' Alan Lee put up Rocky Creek as a possible Gold Cup outsider for next year, Matt Chapman was more than a touch dismissive.

That in itself is no bad thing, as I remember Chapman telling me after Al Ferof won at Taunton that the horse had no chance in the Supreme. You know the rest!!

But, being serious, I would like to think that Alan was more on the mark on this occasion. I am not getting carried away at all after a couple of wins in novice chases, but I do think Rocky Creek is a proper horse.

And the evidence has probably been there all along. Look at his first point-to-point win in Ireland.

He beat Rolling Aces by four lengths, and Rocky Creek is now rated 149 after his Warwick win. And Rolling Aces is rated 145 after his 11 length defeat of Thursday's Wincanton winner Opening Batsman last time, and is a possible for the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton.

That was some point-to-point, with even the third horse home, who was some eight lengths further behind, Bar De Ligne, currently rated 131 after winning in bumper and hurdles.

Rocky Creek travelled and won really impressively at Warwick, and he will obviously be given an entry in the Sun Alliance.

But I view Rocky Creek as very much a horse for next season, and I am already looking forward to the Hennessy with him. So I wouldn't mind missing Cheltenham with him, like we did with Silviniaco Conti last year, and going to Aintree.

But obviously nothing will be decided until I sit down with Andy Stewart and David Johnson, though I think a race such as the Reynoldstown at Ascot could be an option for his next start.

Wherever he goes next, and whatever he does this season though, he is a proper horse for the future.

I was also delighted with Fago at Newbury and the Arkle has to be on the agenda for him now, although he will also be entered in the Jewson.

He had a hard race over 2m6f on his final start in France in November, so we have taken our time with him. And he has put on a whole heap of weight since he came to us, about 30kg.

So you had to be impressed with his win at Newbury, where he jumped beautifully on the whole.

I don't want to get carried away or start making wild comparisons, but he is similar to Master Minded in that we have stepped him down in trip since getting him from France. And he looked to have all the speed in the world at Newbury.

He could go to the Kingmaker at Warwick or Sandown next, before any firm Cheltenham plans are made for him.

But he is clearly a very exciting prospect for Mr and Mrs Wylie, and I am also looking forward to running another of their French purchases, Vago Collonges, possibly in the Newbury bumper on Betfair Super Saturday on February 9th. Al Ferof won that race three years ago.

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19 January 2013

Paul Nicholls


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