Wednesday 21 February 2018

Cooper set for English switch to revive career


Jockey Bryan Cooper. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE
Jockey Bryan Cooper. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

Johnny Ward

Bryan Cooper - sensationally sacked by Michael O'Leary in July - is to turn his attention to Britain to revive his career.

One of the most talented jockeys around, Cooper's career has hit the rocks after Gigginstown dropped him as retained rider after a three-and-a-half-year spell. His father, trainer Tom, and Sean Tiernan, racing manager to English owner Andrew Brooks, have a long-standing relationship.

Brooks now employs Cooper, who trained Forpadydeplasterer to win the 2009 Arkle and Total Enjoyment to win the Bumper at Cheltenham in 2004, to pre-train horses before they switch to Britain.

This has been a vital source of work for a yard that had been struggling with a virus in recent years but which enjoyed a winner at Listowel on Monday.

Brooks' principal patron is Venetia Williams, who has sent out his prolific winners Saroque, Gardefort and Katenko.

Bryan Cooper's only mounts this month have been for his dad but the Irish Independent understands he will now ride many of the Brooks-owned horses in Britain, while continuing to ride at home. It is understood he has yet to commit to any decision.

The timing of the split with O'Leary just before the Galway Festival was as cruel on Cooper as injuries have been over recent seasons.

He replaced Davy Russell as O'Leary's main man in January 2014 and had his first winner for the stud riding Toner D'Oudairies in a Listed Thurles chase.

He has enjoyed success at the Cheltenham Festival, notably for Our Conor for the late Dessie Hughes, but also for O'Leary aboard Don Cossack in last year's Gold Cup.

However, his term at the helm has been hit badly by injuries, compelling Cooper to admit that he had enjoyed only five rides at the Galway Festival in the last four years prior to the 2017 Festival.

On the second day of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, he sustained shocking fractures to his tibia and fibula in a fall at the last in the Fred Winter.

Last October, the Kerry native sustained a fracture to his right arm at Fairyhouse. He had only just recovered from suffering a collapsed lung in a bad fall at the Galway Festival when that latest setback hit.

However, Gigginstown continues to back the jockey, who is riding out at several yards since he became freelance.

Meanwhile, Capri heads a field of 11 for the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday.

The grey son of Galileo took the coveted scalp of Cracksman in the Irish Derby but missed his intended prep race in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month after suffering a slight setback.

Capri spearheads a four-strong team trained by Aidan O'Brien, whose string comprises Venice Beach, Douglas Macarthur and The Anvil. The Ballydoyle handler goes to Doncaster in search of a fifth success in the world's oldest Classic. O'Brien's son Joseph saddles Rekindling just four years after steering Leading Light to Leger glory as a jockey.

Cracksman's trainer John Gosden has four Leger wins to his name and is double-handed this time with Stradivarius and Coronet.


Alyssa dug deep into her reserves to run out a surprise winner of the DFS Park Hill Stakes there yesterday.

Disappointing when well-fancied for last year's renewal of the Group Two contest, Ralph Beckett's four-year-old returned as a 25/1 shot, despite running well to finish third in the Coral Marathon at Sandown on her latest appearance.

Pat Dobbs sent his mount straight to the lead from the off and she remained just in front racing inside the final furlong.

She looked beaten when Aljezeera claimed the lead under Frankie Dettori, but Alyssa roared back to get back up by half a length.

Irish Independent

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