THE new year has got off to a flying start for talented young Tralee jockey Bryan Cooper.
Cooper, who rode two winners at Fairyhouse and Cork in the last week, has been named as the retained retained rider at the successful and highly regarded Gigginstown House Stud owned by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary.
The news came on Friday following speculation on New Year's Eve that champion jockey Davy Russell would no longer be the number one rider for O'Leary's formidable Gigginstown squad.
21-year-old Cooper, the son of trainer Tommy Cooper, has already ridden a number of big-race winners for the Gigginstown team and he soon emerged as hot favourite for one of the biggest jobs in the sport.
Michael O'Leary's brother and Gigginstown's racing manager Eddie O'Leary confirmed on Friday that the Tralee man would be the stable's number one retainer.
The talented Tralee jockey said it's a "great honour" to be named as Gigginstown retainer but he said he'll still be riding out for his long term boss Dessie Hughes for whom he's been riding for the last four years.
"Dessie has been very good to me for the last four years and I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for him. I owe him a lot," said Bryan.