Far West won a tactical renewal of the Ironspine Charity Challenge 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Ascot.
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Outsider Boss In Boots was putting the pace to the race but ran out leaving the home straight, leaving Far West as a reluctant leader.
Stalked by Barry Geraghty aboard River Maigue with Bullet Street in third, Ruby Walsh didn't do anything in a hurry in front aboard the 8/13 favourite.
The three were still closely grouped at the last and it wasn't until Walsh had cleared that flight that he asked the four year old to go and win his race.
The leading JCB Triumph Hurdle candidate showed the better turn of foot - as well as making the most of the 9lbs he received from his principal rival - to take the spoils by two and a half lengths from River Maigue.
"That was just what we wanted and we can now put the finishing touches on before the Triumph," said Nicholls' assistant Dan Skelton.
Sky Bet cut Far West to 11/2 from 7/1 for Festival glory.