Cooper faces lay-off after fall results in broken pelvis
Bryan Cooper is set for another lengthy injury lay-off after suffering a fractured pelvis following a spill in the first race at Punchestown yesterday.
The rider, who enjoyed Grade One success in his role as number one rider for Gigginstown House Stud with Petit Mouchoir at Leopardstown on Thursday, was unseated after Arkwrisht made a bad mistake five out in a beginners' chase.
Cooper was initially sent for a precautionary X-ray, but it was felt following that by Dr Paddy Kenny a scan at Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown would be beneficial, and it was thought that would take place today or tomorrow.
However, Turf Club medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick said last night: "Unfortunately a CT scan has confirmed Bryan has a fractured pelvis. He will be out for six to eight weeks.
"It is a such a rare injury, but the horse came right down on his pelvis."
Cooper has been plagued by injury in recent seasons and only recently returned to action having fractured an arm in October.
In addition to Petit Mouchoir in the Ryanair Hurdle, he enjoyed a further top-level victory in the Gigginstown colours over the last few weeks when Apple's Jade struck in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Punchestown, beating Vroum Vroum Mag.
He also scored for Gigginstown on the promising Death Duty in the Grade Two Navan Novice Hurdle.
He had said earlier in the day that he was keen to "have a go" at Thistlecrack with reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack. The Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack was a brilliant winner of the blue riband back in March, but has been sidelined by injury since.
Meanwhile jockey Richard Johnson feels Native River has to be a "big player" in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup after his Welsh National win. Beaten in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in March, his three subsequent outings over fences have seen him win a Grade One at Aintree, the Hennessy and the Welsh National before he even turns seven.
It capped a great first half of the season for his trainer Colin Tizzard, who also won the Feltham with Royal Vacation and of course the King George VI Chase with Thistlecrack. "We went to Chepstow hoping for good to soft ground for Native River, but it was definitely soft. It was a phenomenal performance to carry that weight on that ground," said Johnson in his Betway blog. "I've ridden him four times and each time he's improved. He's got such a great attitude, he always delivers. You can't ask for more than that.
"I see he's now second favourite for the Gold Cup and he has to be a big player as he stays and jumps. If you take Thistlecrack out, it's a very open race. Cue Card ran well in the King George, but the proximity of the other horses around him wouldn't worry you about taking him on at Cheltenham.
"Thistlecrack is the one everyone has to beat, but he is a novice. That lack of experience could be the only chink in his armour. He was hugely impressive at Kempton and is another who is improving with each run. He's learnt how to put in a short one now, which he couldn't really do two starts back. He's very classy and to beat a horse like Cue Card the way he did showed what a good horse he is.
"The Tizzard yard is in unbelievable form and they've had an amazing few days over Christmas."
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