ROCKY CREEK found Harry Topper too strong on his chasing bow but the winner is a very smart novice and Paul Nicholls' seven-year-old has done little wrong since. The runner-up has franked the form of his win at Doncaster in December and the selection could be called the winner a long way out at Warwick last month. Tour Des Champs would probably have been placed in that race had he not fallen two out, however, and has won a small race at Ffos Las since. Houblon Des Obeaux has been keeping decent company but will probably always come up short against the very best while Real Milan needs to take a further step forward after wins at Carlisle and Ayr, though still has plenty of scope. Chasing newcomer Turtlethomas is set a very stiff task after a lengthy absence.
Houblon Des Obeaux (FR) 7-2 (11-4) With leader, led 9th, headed next, led again 4 out, headed next, kept on same pace, 3rd of 4, 3 1/2l behind Captain Conan (11-4) at Sandown 2m 4f nov chs G1 (1) hvy.
Rocky Creek (IRE) 7-4 (11-5) Held up in touch in rear, closed 10th, went 2nd 12th, led 2 out, ridden clear from last, won at Warwick 3m nov chs (2) sft in Jan beating Fill The Power (11-5) by 15l, 5 ran.
Real Milan (IRE) 1-2fav (11-7) Tracked leaders, pecked 7th, went 2nd 10th, ridden after 3 out, led next, clear last, stayed on, won at Ayr 3m 1f nov chs (4) hvy in Jan beating Netminder (11-0) by 4l, 6 ran.
Tour Des Champs (FR) 5-4fav (11-8) Made all, clear from 2 out, easily, won at Ffos Las 3m nov chs (3) hvy beating One In A Milan (11-4) by 31l, 4 ran.
Turtlethomas (IRE) 9-2 (11-9) In touch in mid-division, pushed along after 7th, headway approaching 3 out, weakened next, 5th of 8, 16l behind Kasbadali (11-7) at Towcester 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gd in Nov '11.