JAMES Dullea’s horses have started to hit form since the rain arrived, and the Bandon trainer was among the winners again, at Punchestown, in midweek.
Already off the mark for the current season with Mohart, who won a maiden chase at Downpatrick, the trainer doubled his tally for the campaign, when his Rocky’s Silver took victory in a two-mile, seven handicap chase, on Tuesday. The six-year-old grey has now won four races under rules.
"It’s mighty. Rocky’s Silver did it well. The horse (Frankly All Talk) fell to let him win that far, but I think we nearly had the beating of him.
"It’s brilliant for a horse that couldn’t win a point-to-point; here we are winning a fourth race on the track! He is still only six and seems to be improving with age. He’ll need to improve again, as he is going to go up in the handicap. But hopefully he can.
"The rain arriving has helped, big time! We ran Rocky’s Silver in Mallow at the start of the season and I couldn’t believe how good the ground was.
"The minute I walked the track, I knew it wasn’t going to suit him. The last day, in Clonmel, he ran well to a point (when fifth), over hurdles, but it wasn’t proper winter ground. It was tacky.
"He wants steep, winter ground and he got that on Tuesday. He was rated lower over fences and he jumps fences well. His technique has improved with the last 12 months. He’s starting to respect the fences a bit better.
"Conor Orr (winning jockey) said that he seemed to respect the bigger fences in Punchestown and jumped better again. We were a bit slow in getting going, but hopefully we are getting there now. The horses are coming back into form. Just Get Cracking ran a belter in Mallow (when second, earlier this month) – a little more and he’d nearly have won."
The local handler looks set to have a runner at Limerick today, with his Moscowsowhat holding an entry in the two mile, three maiden hurdle.
"We are looking forward to running him. He’s in good form. We are expecting a good run. He wants soft ground. The trip is a little bit on the sharp side but, with the ground being the way it probably will be, I think it should suit him.
"Hopefully, he’ll run well and get (his owners, the James Dullea Racing Club) off to a good start."
Dullea will also have his eyes on the upcoming fixtures at Tramore, in December and January. His horses tend to act well around the Waterford venue, which is a sharp, undulating track. The trainer has sent out 16 winners at Tramore and, along with the nearby location, his success there could be as a result of how he trains his horses.
"It’s just that we put a lot of work into balancing horses. Our gallops aren’t any different to other trainers’ gallops in the country, but we maybe just put a little more effort into balancing them.
"Tramore’s race programme actually suits us as much as anything. It’s a combination of things. It’s a track I love and I’ll hopefully have a runner or two there."
Meanwhile, a stable stalwart at the west Cork facility, Dark Outsider, has been retired. The 11-year-old gelding won six times on the racecourse and was a yard favourite. He was last seen finishing down the field, in a handicap hurdle, at Tipperary.
"He has been retired. He was an unbelievable servant to the yard. He just met with a small setback, the miles were on the clock and the age was there. So we felt it only right to retire him."
On the rest of his string at Killountain stables: "Mohart will hopefully be back around Christmas. He has just met with a few small niggles. He could go to Tramore on New Year’s Day, possibly.
"Tikkanen Express is on the way back. He might be ready for a run in the next fortnight, with a view to having him ready for Christmas."