Cooper seizes 'great opportunity' with Potts in England
Former Gigginstown No 1 Bryan Cooper is looking to make the most of a "great opportunity" after being confirmed as the new first-choice rider for prominent English-based owner Alan Potts.
The Tralee native suffered a major blow in late July after losing the job as retained rider for Michael O'Leary's operation, for whom he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Don Cossack.
With opportunities here having been thin on the ground, a report in this newspaper first revealed that Cooper was about to make the move to ride full-time in Britain, but he released a statement saying "there are no significant agreements in place at this time and I will continue to be based in Ireland."
However, Cooper has made fleeting trips across the Irish Sea in recent weeks to ride horses owned by Andrew Brooks and he is set to be seen on tracks across the Irish Sea more frequently in the coming weeks and months after agreeing to ride the Potts-owned horses based in England.
The new relationship kicks off at Ludlow today, with Cooper booked to ride the Colin Tizzard-trained pair of Exxaro and Mick Thonic.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it and it's a great opportunity," said Cooper who, ironically, guided the O'Leary-owned and Henry de Bromhead-trained Calino D'Airy (14/1) to victory in the beginners' chase at Galway yesterday.
Cooper's first high-profile ride in the new role could be dual Grade One-winning hurdler Finian's Oscar, which is pencilled in to make his debut over fences at Chepstow on Saturday, though Tizzard is keeping an eye on the weather, with give in the ground essential.
While Cooper looks set to be Potts' main man in England, Robbie Power will continue to ride the owner's Irish-trained horses, including Jessica Harrington's Sizing John, whom he steered to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in March.
Meanwhile, yesterday's feature at Ballybrit also went to a horse carrying the famous O'Leary maroon and white silks as the Noel Meade-trained A Genie In Abottle made all the running under Sean Flanagan in the Ryans Cleaning Chase.
The 6/4 second favourite knuckled down well in the testing conditions to score by two-and-a-half lengths from Mala Beach which ran a fine race on his first outing since March of last year.
Meade and Flanagan were completing doubles on the card after The Rory Story (8/1) had earlier upset red-hot favourite Poli Roi in the opening maiden hurdle.
Poli Roi was 4/7 to make a successful transition to hurdles for Gordon Elliott after showing some smart bumper form, but a bad mistake at the second-last proved costly for Davy Russell's mount and he was eventually beaten by four lengths.