Horses To Follow » Rocky Bleier

Rocky Bleier

Rocky Bleier put up a really likeable performance to win the 12-furlong October Handicap at Naas on Sunday.

Dropped right out the back through the early stages of the race by Billy Lee, he was stone last of a well-stretched out 15-horse field as they raced down the back straight. Taken to the outside at the top of the home straight, he made strong progress from the three-furlong pole on the outside, joined Bazaar and Princess Pearlita in front at the 200-yard mark, and surged on powerfully to come clear inside the final 100 yards, putting a length and a half between himself and his field by the time he reached the winning line.

There was a lot to like about this performance from Bill Farrell’s horse. He made significant ground down the outside, he was strong in the finish and he showed a really willing attitude to get to the front and then to come clear. As well as that, the race was run in a good time, and it was run to suit the horses who raced handily. The next three horses home after the winner, Bazaar, Princess Pearlita and Cailini Alainn, raced handily throughout, as did sixth-placed Ancient Sands. Only the winner and fifth-placed Won Diamond (who was ultimately disqualified after his rider failed to weigh in) were able to get into the race from behind the front rank, and the winner came from far further back than Won Diamond.

The son of Rock Of Gibraltar was sold at Goffs on Thursday to top National Hunt owner Barry Connell, and he could be a really interesting recruit to the National Hunt game. He seems to be a greatly improved horse on the flat this autumn, his improvement coinciding with a switch to hold-up tactics. He won a handicap at Navan two weeks ago over 10 furlongs on his first run since June, and followed up with Sunday’s win off an 8lb higher mark. Another 8lb hike leaves him on a mark of 93, which may still under-estimate his ability on the flat. Sunday’s race was just the sixth of his life, he still has plenty of scope to progress further.

That may be irrelevant now as his future probably lies over hurdles. His debut over hurdles is awaited with interest, and he will also be of interest if and when he races again on the flat.

19th October 2014