Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 20 May 2018

Cooper second on Galway comeback

Jockey Bryan Cooper
Jockey Bryan Cooper

Thomas Kelly

Bryan Cooper had to make do with the runner-up spot on his return from over a month on the sidelines at Galway yesterday.

The leading jockey suffered a small laceration of his liver and a partially collapsed lung after suffering a heavy fall at the Galway Festival in late July.

Cooper was riding the Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll when the pair parted company on the approach to the final fence and slid into the take-off board at the bottom of the obstacle.

Making his comeback aboard the same horse and at the same venue in the Ballybrit Novice Chase, Cooper cut out the early running aboard Tiger Roll (9/2) before stablemate and 2/1 favourite Tocororo took over with a circuit to run in the hands of Jack Kennedy.

Tiger Roll did his best to bridge the gap, but four-year-old filly Tocororo proved much too strong and passed the post 16 lengths clear.

"People made a big deal out of it (the injury) more than anything else, but we're back," Cooper said. "I would have picked the winner but the lightest I did in the last year was 10st 1lb (winner carried 9st 12lb) and it's a long winter and we have plenty to look forward to."

Elsewhere, it may seem strange that a 23-year-old can line up in a charity race entitled the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Stakes, but at Doncaster today that is the focus for Joseph O'Brien as he returns to the saddle.

Most of the former Ballydoyle stable jockey's opponents - like George Duffield and Luke Harvey - are long since retired, but three-times British Flat champion Richard Hughes is another who doesn't quite fall into the veteran category yet.

Hughes, also a trainer now, rides the fancied Bluff Crag in a mile event that raises funds for Jack Berry House. It was memorably won 12 months ago by Tony McCoy. As quietly as he announced last March that he was swapping riding for training, O'Brien creeps into this light-hearted start to the Leger meeting on Phosphorescence, which has switched from Lady Cecil to George Scott and not raced for 427 days.

"I didn't need any persuasion, it's for a very good cause and it should be a good laugh and a bit of craic," said O'Brien yesterday. "I don't know too much about the horse, he has been off the track a while, but it's great to be riding for the Niarchos family and for George - and hopefully he runs well."

O'Brien finished a career, which included 10 British and Irish Classics for his father Aidan's stable and some struggles with weight, at the end of last season. Riding out is "not every day", but clearly quite often. "It seems like a long time ago now," he said.

He has been running a mixed string at the family's stable in Owning, Co Kilkenny, officially taking the yard over from his father and saddling a four-timer on his first day as a fully-fledged trainer in June.

O'Brien also had an update on Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov, saying: "He is probably a couple of months off a run, but he's back in light exercise and seems to have had a good summer."

Irish Independent

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