Tuesday 20 March 2018

Cooper back on Roll at scene of Galway crime

Jockey Bryan Cooper. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / Sportsfile
Jockey Bryan Cooper. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Over two months without a winner and the guts of six weeks since he had a ride, Bryan Cooper returns this evening and he may smile wryly.

It was Tiger Roll whose unseat in that madcap area between Galway's last two fences at the festival saw Cooper sidelined. And it is Tiger Roll on which Cooper makes his comeback - at Galway no less - this evening. The pair teams up in the Ballybrit Novice Steeplechase, a Grade Three contest.

Cooper's unseat, which was somewhat prolonged, seemed relatively tame in the action replay. The reality was a collapsed lung, but Cooper can take courage from the fact that Tiger Roll is an efficient jumper in the main.

However, stablemate Tagliatelle could prove too strong, in receipt of 7lb from top weight Hurricane Ben and four from Tiger Roll.

It is a worry that the Tagula-bred only got as far as the first fence in the race won at Killarney by Briar Hill but his Galway fourth on his chase debut was an excellent effort. He handles an ease if conditions worsen.

The €18,000 Deacy Gilligan European Breeders Fund Mares Hurdle sees Willie Mullins introduce Retour En France in the colours of Susannah Ricci.

The talking point here is that the French recruit has the assistance of Ruby Walsh, given that stablemate Airlie Beach - which is three from three in her career - is also in the line-up.

It may seem a pointer in itself but the mount of Paul Townend should prove a formidable foe to Retour En France.

Take Mr Antolini to reward nap backers in the opening O'Leary Insurances Maiden Hurdle. Cable quite simply does not give the impression that bumpers suit him and he can produce a better effort now hurdling but Davy Russell's mount can master him up the punishing Galway hill.

Meanwhile, Leopardstown's chief executive Pat Keogh is "delighted with the ground" ahead of Saturday's Qipco Irish Champion Stakes and he will also be pleased that Dermot Weld has intimated that dual Derby winner Harzand will likely run - providing he pleases in his exercise this morning.

"We are to get a bit more rain towards the back end of the week; it is unclear how much more," Keogh said.

"At the moment, good to firm looks unlikely. If I were really pushed, we'd expect good ground. We got 26mm of rain between Saturday and Sunday night."

The Irish Independent understands that Frankie Dettori, who has won the race six times, may steer Harzand's stablemate Fascinating Rock, which is as short as 6/1 in the betting. Weld would not be drawn on that.

He said: "Provided they come through their work in the morning, they will both run. I will decide closer to the day. It was good news regarding the ground and if the ground is good they'll both run."

Idaho is now odds-on for Saturday's Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster. Aidan O'Brien has also left in Housesofparliament, Kellstorm, Sword Fighter, The Major General, Triplicate and Unicorn among the 15 confirmations.

Last year's winner Rogue Angel is among the 36 entries for the Guinness Kerry National tomorrow week at Listowel.

Mouse Morris has entered First Lieutenant, Thunder And Roses and Folsom Blue, while Mullins could run Alelchi Inois, Ballycasey and Devils Bride in the €175,000 affair.

Irish Independent

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