AFTER a quiet summer campaign, James Dullea’s Bandon yard is back motoring again, at the start of the new winter jumps season.
Dullea has his string of horses in fine fettle, having saddled a brace of winners and several placed runners, for the month of October so far.
This weekend, the local handler could have a live contender for the Paddy Power Cork National, in the shape of Rocky’s Silver. Mallow’s €40,000 feature race on Sunday looks like the ideal contest for one of the stable’s leading lights.
Rocky’s Silver was second over hurdles at Tipperary earlier this month, on what was his seasonal reappearance.
The seven year old grey could relish the three and a half mile trip at Mallow, and should also have his preferred soft conditions underfoot.
If the rain arrives over the coming days as expected, then Rocky’s Silver will take his chance in a typically-competitive renewal.
‘‘That’s the plan anyway, to go for the Cork National. The conditions should be right down his street. That doesn’t mean I’m saying that he’s going to go down and win there!
"But they are the kind of conditions he needs and we’ll be looking for the ground to turn up on the soft side. We’ll be going there hoping that he will run well.
"Who knows after that? At the end of the day, a national is a national. Anything can happen, ’’ Dullea said.
The Cork trainer sent out 22/1 chance Cailin Dearg to score at Wexford, last weekend.
A daughter of Getaway, she kept on well under Darragh Allen, to win the concluding mares’ bumper on the card. Her win might have surprised a few. But her trainer was expecting a big run.
‘‘I did think she would run well. I thought she was totally overpriced. I didn’t think she would win it but I did think she’d be placed. She’s a good mare.
"She’ll be better with a jump in front of her. She can go on most types of ground. She won a point-to-point for my first cousin (Padraig Butler) in Bandon last March. It was tough going that day.
"She jumps real well and she’s definitely a mare to look forward to. She goes to the sales. I wouldn’t mind keeping her but that’s the name of the game. Whoever ends up with her will have a grand mare going forward,’’ he said.
That latest win doubled Dullea’s tally for the season. Colonel Lesley handed the trainer his first win since lockdown, when scoring under Conor Orr, at Tramore recently.
Chalky White, Rocky’s Silver and Tikkanen Express have run well in defeat, on their respective comeback runs as well.
With a 20% strike rate for winners-to-runners ratio, at the time of writing, the trainer’s team of horses seems to be thriving. He’s hoping that that will continue, through the winter months.
‘‘They are healthy at the moment. They are starting to run well now. Even horses that aren’t winning are running their races for their first runs back.
"We’ll be hoping they’ll build on it and improve, as all ours usually do for their first run or two. And that we’ll have a bit of soft ground. They don’t all want heavy ground.
"But most of them want a bit of soft. We are back going now. We had very little for the summer anyway. They are back in and working away. We are looking forward to the season.
"I think we have a nice bunch of horses. We have a couple of more horses to come out around the middle of November, the likes of Just Get Cracking.
"Satin Sun might be ready for the end of November. Hopefully, we’ll have a bit of success over the winter,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, former Colaiste Mhuire, Buttevant pupil, Oisin Murphy achieved another milestone this week. Britain’s champion jockey reached the 1000 mark for domestic career winners.
Sporting the colours of Qatar Racing, for whom he is retained rider, Murphy completed the feat when guiding Perfect Sign to victory, at Southwell.
The Kerry native is on course to retain his jockeys’ title, in a season where he has also won his first Classic.