Sharpshooter Value Bet – Spring Juvenile Hurdle

The weekend after next the spotlight switches across the Irish Sea to the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

One of the hardest things to deal with in Irish racing is the frequency with which trainers and owners switch targets, or leave their options open until the very last minute. Just think of Willie Mullins and Cheltenham! (A tip here - keep your powder dry and wait until Willie commits - then follow him as he picks the right race more often than not.)

However our Dublin Festival selection - ironically trained by Willie's brother Tom - ROCKY BLUE - has the Spring Juvenile Hurdle on the Sunday very much as his target, which it has been for some time back.

Tom is understandably a bit overshadowed by Willie who trains just a few miles away, but he has a fair strike rate himself with the small and select team he trains in Goresbridge deep in the the Kilkenny/Carlow racing heartlands, the same yard from which his dad Paddy sent out iconic horses like Dawn Run and Hurry Harriet.

Rocky Blue will hardly scale those kind of dizzy heights, but make no mistake, he's proven, progressive, very much on the upgrade - and also seems to have been foaled under a lucky star!

Bought for just £11,000 at Goffs as a yearling, he showed a fair bit of promise when placed a few times on the flat, and then really took off over a mile and six at Navan where he won by half the track.

He got a rating of 74 for that and who knows how far he could have climbed the ratings, but jumping was always going to be his game and he kicked off in a hot enough contest at Punchestown.

A few early jumping errors didn't help, but he still ran a fine race when second to Got Trumped and he reversed those placings in style when jumping a lot better on his way to victory in a Grade 2 at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival next time out.

Some other notable scalps collected that day were Chief Justice and La Sorelita.

Ridden off the pace for a long way with supreme confidence by David Mullins - Tom's son and one of the calmest and sharpest operators around - he quickened up sweetly when asked and was going just as well as Couer Sublime who took a tumble when alongsides at the last.

Coincidentally in that Navan flat race Eight And Bob, the 11/10 jolly trained by Willie, and the Aidan O'Brien trained Conquest both bizarrely slipped up independently of each other - Conquest was leading with Eight And Bob out the back - when crossing a roadway entering the back straight.

So good fortune seems to smile on Rocky Blue and that's never a bad thing to have on your side! But he has bags of ability and is dripping with potential.He really finds another gear at the business end of his races, and is poised for more glory back at Leopardstown next weekend.

Proven over track and trip and almost guaranteed to get the good ground he loves, what's not to like? One thing for sure if he was trained by Willie he would not be as attractively priced as he is now.


ROCKY BLUE 0.5 point each way 12/1 Ladbrokes, Betfred, Totesport & Unibet

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