Bandon trainer James Dullea strikes gold with Rocky’s Silver

Bandon trainer James Dullea strikes gold with Rocky’s Silver
Rocky's Silver and Derek O'Connor (left) beats Final List (right) to win The Total Event Rental Amateur National (QR) Handicap Steeplechase. Picture: Healy Racing

ROCKY’S SILVER has become a stable star at James Dullea’s Bandon yard, and the seven- year-old gelding could now be developing into a ‘National’ type.

The son of Acambaro stayed on strongly, under a brilliant ride from Derek O’Connor, to triumph in last weekend’s ‘Amateur National’ — run over three miles and a furlong — at Punchestown racecourse.

Rocky’s Silver has now won five races, four of which have been over fences, climbing up the ratings to 130.

He is set to be aimed at the National Trial next, back at the same venue, while the Irish Grand National, and other similar National races, could also be on the agenda further down the line — although those targets are very much ground-permitting.

The grey continues to improve and it’s an exciting time for connections.

"He’s a real favourite with the lads in the yard. Even my own kids are stone mad about him. He’s a real, kind, laid-back type of horse. The owners are getting great mileage out of him.

“They had their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchild with them in Punchestown and I know they got a massive kick out of it. This win would up there with our biggest wins, as Tikkanen Express won (a similar race) there in October of 2018.

“The trip was going to suit Rocky’s Silver, the (soft) ground was suiting and he was in good form as he had run the previous week in Mallow over hurdles. We were lucky to get Derek. Confident isn’t a word I’d use, because I’m never confident going to the races!

“We are long enough at it to know better; when you have fences in front of horses anything could happen! We were as confident as you could be of a big run.

‘‘He’s a stable star at the moment. He’s progressing, and improving with every run. He’s a traditional, old-fashioned, chasing type.

“We’re hoping there might be still a lit bit of improvement in him. I’m not sure about the Irish National, but certainly the National Trial would be on the agenda.

“The ground can often come up quite good in Fairyhouse and I just wonder if he would have the pace for that.

“There’s so much prize money on offer and you’ve a lot of grade one horses going for it, so I don’t know if he would have the tactical speed.

“But I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. We’ll aim at the National Trial and see how he gets on.

“That will tell us where we are going after that. He’d be tailor-made for races such as (the Connacht National and the Midlands National,) if we got a wet summer."

Derek O'Connor and Rocky's Silver won for trainer James Dullea. Picture: Healy Racing.
Derek O'Connor and Rocky's Silver won for trainer James Dullea. Picture: Healy Racing.

Tikkanen Express has been another mighty servant for the team at Killountain.

The nine-year-old son of Tikkanen ran a cracker at Leopardstown over Christmas when fifth in a €30,000 handicap chase.

‘‘I was delighted with the way he ran. He ran well over hurdles (when sixth at Cork) before that.

“He ran a smashing race in a competitive handicap at Leopardstown over a trip (2m1f) that was probably a bit short.

“We are looking forward to him, he’s in good order and he’s in for Sunday at Thurles. Fingers-crossed, he can stay in one piece. We are expecting a big run."

Just Get Cracking, a stable stalwart, ran another fine race, when second on his comeback run at Mallow in November.

He is set to return to the racecourse before the end of the season.

‘‘He got a setback after that run, which was disappointing as he was just after coming back from a setback. He won’t be out very soon, but hopefully he’ll be there in the spring, when we get a bit of nicer ground.

“We are looking forward to getting him back on track, especially as his last run was an exceptional one as he was coming back off a long break.

“We have some nice young horses to come out in time. We also have a few nice horses for point-to-points.

“Things are good at the moment. We won’t hold our breath but we’ll make hay while we can!’’

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