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Mixed day for Cooper


Desertmore Stream unseats jockey Bryan Cooper. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Desertmore Stream unseats jockey Bryan Cooper. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Desertmore Stream unseats jockey Bryan Cooper. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

BRYAN COOPER was served up a mixed bag on his first day as Gigginstown's retained rider but he got the new role off to a winning start when he guided Toner D'Oudairies to success in the Thurles Racecourse Supporters Club Chase.

In a race that saw just four go to post, it looked as though Davy Russell could have ironically found himself on the more fancied of the Gigginstown pair as early morning moves were for Make A Track, who went off second favourite behind the Willie Mullins-trained Rupert Lamb.

The favourite was a faller when in front at the fourth last, however, and that left Toner D'Oudairies to pick it up under Cooper and continue in front to record a two-length success over Letter Of Credit in second.

That was an eighth win for Toner D'Oudairies and trainer Gordon Elliott will look to return to Thurles in a couple of weeks expecting more improvement from the seven-year-old.

"That's five he's after winning for us this year and he's a grand horse. I think he likes those smaller fields and getting his bit of confidence," said Elliott.

"It wasn't ideal Ruby falling in front of him and then he was left in front because he wouldn't do a stroke in front but he was still in front when it mattered.

"I wasn't overly worried about the ground but I suppose the trip was a little sharp and he is only back in three weeks after we gave him a break so we thought he would come on for the run, so hopefully he will."

"He's a right horse and if we had a few more like him we'd be okay! He's a good old servant and he's a gentleman of a horse to have at home.

"He's a grand horse for these races to pick up a bit of prize money and we'll probably look at coming back for a two-and-a-half-mile chase in a couple of weeks' time but I'll have a chat with Michael and Eddie (O'Leary) and we'll see what we do."

It was the second time Cooper had won on the horse this season, having already landed a Grade Three chase at Punchestown earlier in the season, and Elliott was delighted to get Gigginstown's new retainer off the mark.

"I was at the last when he got a fall in the first off Philip's (Fenton) horse but thankfully he was okay and it's nice for him to get a winner on his first day. It's a pressure job and he has big boots to fill and I hope he gets on well."



Cooper had earlier taken a fall when looking set for fourth on his first ride in the job on Desertmore Stream and also hit the deck on the Dessie Hughes-trained Stoney later in the day but said of his first winner in his new role: "It's great to get a winner for Gigginstown, they have been good to me since the start."

After a string of seconds the Willie Mullins-trained Urano looked set to open his account at Thurles before Christmas when he slipped up approaching the final flight but he put things right yesterday to seal a double on the card for Willie Mullins. The champion trainer also won the concluding bumper with Beluckyagain who was sent off at 11/4 under Patrick Mullins, returning from suspension.

Cooper, meanwhile, believes First Lieutenant will be the one to beat if he runs in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on February 9. "He ran a cracker (in the Lexus), he's probably one of my favourite horses in training. He's so tough," said Cooper.

"He went to Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown and ran great races each day and I think if he goes to the Hennessy, he should be the one to beat hopefully."

Cooper is also looking forward to riding Philip Fenton's Last Instalment, who is set to return from a lengthy absence in the near future.

"He's due to come back soon enough. He's had a long lay off but from what I heard the other day, he's on the road back," said Cooper.

"He has kind of been half-forgotten about, but if he makes it back to the level he was at as a novice, he's definitely one to look forward to."