Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Bryan Cooper retires from racing at 30

Bryan Cooper rode nine Cheltenham Festival winners during his racing career. Image: Sportsfile.

Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Bryan Cooper has announced his retirement from the saddle at the age of 30.

Cooper scaled the highest of highs during his career when guiding Don Cossack to success in the Cheltenham blue riband in 2016.

The Kerry native was flying high at the time as first jockey to Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud before they parted ways ahead of the 2017-'18 jumps season.

That left Cooper out in the cold somewhat but a partnership with Paul Nolan helped to re-invigorate him as the pair combined for Grade One success at the 2020 Dublin Racing Festival via Latest Exhibition.

Cooper went freelance after the Gigginstown split and was a key part of the Willie Mullins team in recent seasons, with whom he combined for Grade One success aboard Franco De Port in the 2020 at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

Cooper had one of his best days in the saddle when guiding Nolan's Mrs Milner to Cheltenham Festival success in the 2021 Pertemps while he has also regularly partnered with O'Leary in recent years.

At last year's Punchestown Festival, he guided the Joseph O'Brien-trained Scarlet And Dove to success in a Grade Two Mares Chase in those famous maroon and white silks.

"It's fantastic to ride a winner at the Festival here with the crowds and again in these colours, they were very good to me and I'm just delighted to be getting the opportunities," Cooper said at the time.

He missed out on last week's Cheltenham Festival after being unseated from Farceur Du Large in the Leinster National at Naas on the eve of the Cotswolds and he has now opted to call time on his career to the surprise of many.

"After much careful thought and consideration for some time, I am officially announcing my retirement from race riding with immediate effect," Cooper said via a statement on Twitter today.

"I've been lucky to have had a wonderful over the past 14 years as a jockey. To my family, the owners, trainers and stable staff who have supported me throughout my whole career, I can't thank you enough for some incredible days.

"It is time for me to move onto the next chapter of my life, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me."

Cooper retires with nine Cheltenham Festival victories to his name:

2013 - Benefficient (Turners Novices’ Chase), Our Conor (Triumph Hurdle), Ted Veale (County Hurdle)

2015 - Don Poli (Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase)

2016 - Empire Of Dirt (Plate), Don Cossack (Gold Cup)

2017 - Apple’s Jade (Mares’ Hurdle), Road To Respect (Plate)

2021 - Mrs Milner (Pertemps)