Sport Horse Racing

Monday 18 December 2017

Cooper gets off the mark for new boss O'Leary

New No 1 recovers after fall to open Gigginstown account

Desertmore Stream unseats Bryan Cooper after falling at the last during the I.N.H. Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle. Thurles Racecourse
Desertmore Stream unseats Bryan Cooper after falling at the last during the I.N.H. Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle. Thurles Racecourse
Davy Russell, who finished third on Make A Track, passes by winner Toner D'Oudairies and jockey Bryan Cooper as he makes his way back to the weigh-room after the Thurles Racecourse Supporters Club Steeplechase. Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Thomas Kelly

IT was very much 'out with the old and in with the new' at Thurles where Bryan Cooper recorded his first win in his new job as Gigginstown House Stud's No 1 jockey.

On just his second ride as Michael O'Leary's retained rider, the young Kerryman quickly repaid the faith of the leading owner by landing the feature contest on Toner D'Oudairies.

Only 30 minutes earlier, Cooper's first official ride as Gigginstown's leading man saw him hit the deck as Desertmore Stream fell at the last, but the 21-year-old dusted himself down and wasted little time in bouncing back in the style of a future champion jockey.

The Listed Thurles Racecourse Supporters Club Chase had its own sub-plot as Davy Russell, the man Cooper replaced after seven years in the role, was on a fellow Gigginstown runner, Make A Track.

However, the race appeared to revolve around Willie Mullins' Rupert Lamb and the 6/4 favourite was going great guns at the head of affairs until he came down four from home.

That left Gordon Elliott's grand servant Toner D'Oudairies (3/1) in front and he found enough to see off Letter Of Credit by two lengths.

"He was entitled to do that," said a smiling Cooper.

"It is great to get a winner for Gigginstown, they have been very good to me since the start.


"I knew this horse -- I had won on him in the past, so I knew his form was very good.

"It is great to have those choices to make (of what to ride)."

Elliott added: "I thought he might need it a bit, but he has been a good servant and it was nice to get Bryan off to a good start.

"He will come back here for a conditions chase in a few weeks' time."

This race was previously run as a Grade Three but was downgraded this year.

The opening maiden hurdle did not end so well for Cooper as he parted company with favourite Desertmore Stream when it was a beaten fourth at the final flight.

The race was won impressively by The Pounds, trained by Tom Foley of Danoli fame and ridden by Roger Loughran, who may come in for more rides from Dessie Hughes with Cooper now vacating that role.

Mullins may have been out of luck in the feature event but the champion trainer still notched a double.

The Closutton maestro finally coaxed a win out of Urano (10/11 favourite) at the seventh time of asking in the staying maiden hurdle after finishing second five times and clipping heels and coming down when looking likely to win last time out.

Reflecting on the overdue success, Mullins put the win down to a change in tactics.

"That is the seventh time of asking but obviously the trainer was getting it wrong all the time as he now appears to want a trip," said Mullins.

"We had been making the running with him over two miles but dropping him in over a longer trip seems to be the key to him.

"He works like a two-mile horse at home but he looked good at that trip today and we now know he stays.

"We were hoping he would do that after his run the last day when we thought that if he got daylight he would have shot clear. With the change in tactics we could bring him back to two and a half miles, and at least now he is showing us what he shows on the gallops."

Ruby Walsh was on Urano, while Patrick Mullins rode Beluckyagain (11/4) to victory in the closing mares' bumper.

The Thurles Racecourse Handicap Chase proved a real family affair as 25/1 outsider Carrigeen Kariega provided 21-year-old jockey John Lalor with his first winner, trained by his dad, Dick.

"That is the young lad's first winner and he is 21," said Lalor Snr.

"He had a big smile on his face passing the post and I am delighted to give him his first track winner. He won a point-to-point on her as well.

"She has two ways of running, but everything went right today. She likes the softer ground and she will be kept on the go in staying chases now."

There was a dramatic finish to the staying handicap hurdle, in which favourite-backers saw market leader Sterling Stuff (7/4) part company with Philip Enright after pecking at the final flight.

The favourite's departure left Bothar Clei to battle it out with Pairc Na Leasa and the former -- trained by Daniel Murphy -- stuck to his task gamely under Eoin O'Brien to hold sway by half a length.

The two-mile handicap hurdle saw the spoils go to the Philip Rothwell-trained Luddsdenene in the confident hands of Paul Townend.

Irish Independent

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