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Rookie trainer chasing Battle of the Bush glory

Thu 24 June 2021

By Glenn Davis

Young Rockhampton trainer Nick Walsh’s biggest win could come sooner than expected when he saddles up his first metropolitan starter Bollente in the Battle of the Bush Final at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Bollente has only had one start for the 23-year-old trainer, winning a set-weights race over 1200 metres at Emerald on May 22.

The five-year-old was previously trained at Winton by Australian rodeo legend Ray Hermann, who set the son of Sizzling for last year’s Country Cups Challenge Final in Brisbane only to be ruled out with a fetlock injury.

Hermann was a seven-time Australian rodeo champion in his younger days, winning two world titles in 1978 and 1981.

Bollente started his career with John O’Shea in Sydney, but after failing to fire in his first four starts, was bought by Hermann's father, Clarrie, for $20,000 at an online auction in 2019.

Bollente has since become a cult hero in the central-west, winning 14 times while lumping massive weights.

“When he first came to me the plan was to run him in the Rocky Cup but he had a very high rating and he would have got the grandstand,” Walsh said.

“I went through the calendar and picked out a set weights race for him at Emerald which was also a qualifying race for the Battle Of The Bush Final.

“The 1200-metre Emerald race was a good lead up race for the carnival up here and because it was a set weights race it kept the weight off him.

“He’s still got 62kgs on Saturday which is a lot of weight but he’s a deadset miler and will be doing his best late.

“They tell me it takes a good 1400-metre horse to win over 1200 metres at Eagle Farm so it’ll be very exciting to take a horse to Brisbane for the first time that’s in the market and will be hard to beat.”

Walsh rates Tango Rain as one of the main dangers but believes barrier 18 will make his task harder.

Walsh has only been training for 18 months but is already making his mark among the central Queensland training ranks.

He combines training with a full-time job as a salesman for Greensteel - a steel distribution company in Rockhampton.

In early markets for the 1400-metre feature, Bollente is a $5.50 second favourite behind Tango Rain at $4.60.