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Bryan Cooper begins life as just another jockey after ruthless O'Leary sacking



Michael O’Leary will continue to employ Bryan Cooper on a race-to-race basis. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael O’Leary will continue to employ Bryan Cooper on a race-to-race basis. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael O’Leary will continue to employ Bryan Cooper on a race-to-race basis. Photo: Sportsfile

It was a comment that doubtless went over the heads of many reading it but those who understood it could only smile and admire Gordon Elliott.

Asked in a Q&A what his biggest fear was last year, the trainer said being asked to go for a cup of tea.

This was a beautiful tongue-in-cheek jibe at his principal owner, Gigginstown House Stud. Rather infamously, Davy Russell had told how Michael O'Leary had asked him to go for a cup of tea at the races one day, during which time he lost his job as Gigginstown rider.

It seemed an extremely harsh call on Russell - not so much a reflection of his own inadequacies; rather that O'Leary wanted a young Bryan Cooper before somebody else got him first.

Last Friday's statement that the axis had ended was not a huge shock, in light of Cooper's horrendously poor run of injuries, but the timing was predictably ruthless on the part of O'Leary, who once said on The Late Late Show that the customer was "nearly always wrong." Galway was, after all, just three days away.

It augments the intrigue of the seven-day extravaganza, which is a pretty neat encapsulation of the rather enigmatic relationship the general public has with racing.


Far greater crowds will flood an idiosyncratic Western racetrack than will attend Leopardstown for the Champion Stakes card. But, then, horses are the last thing on the minds of most people, many of them bound for Galway this week.

For Cooper, it is time to start again, though it must feel like getting ditched by a girlfriend on the eve of a wedding you are nevertheless compelled to attend.

He must confront the inevitability of the curious, awkward stare of the public, token words of support and women struggling in heels, fake tan battling with the elements - who have no idea who he is.

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Cooper's statement after the news was most notable for the decision to put the following in bold type: "There has been no parting company or falling out."

The need to stress this point casts aspersions on its general veracity while aiming for the very opposite.

Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O'Leary, meanwhile, made comments that implied that the rider needed a kick up the backside. Having ridden for just three trainers this season other than a Gigginstown ally or his father Tom, the need to update his contacts book is clear, no easy challenge for a guy who tends to keep to himself.

Gigginstown will still use him and what he rides in the Plate and Hurdle will be pretty captivating.

Galway is both magic and zany, where it is possible to fall in love but lose her after going for a cigarette. So it is that Cooper winning one of the two iconic races is almost to be expected, though Micheal O'Leary subsequently bursting into tears may be asking too much.

Dermot Weld is doubtless delighted the spotlight is elsewhere, the 'King Of Ballybrit' conceding defeat in a title race in which he was the cat catching a mouse with three legs. For all of that, he has five runners today, and racing can fool the best of us.

He might whisper to Cooper, quite possibly after they combine to take this evening's opening novice hurdle with Aydoun: Galway, after all, is Galway.

Goodwood history beckons Big Orange

The British warm to Flat stayers in a particular way and Big Orange's win in the Gold Cup, when he seemed to out-battle the reigning Order Of St George, was stirring.

Tomorrow, Michael Bell's charge gets his shot at racing history when he attempts to become the first to win three Goodwood Cups on the bounce.

In 210 years, only Double Trigger has won the race three times and, with no Order Of St George to contend with, he can prevail.

Despite that horse's absence, Aidan O'Brien has reason to anticipate a decent week, Winter and Churchill among the headline Ballydoyle acts.

Ana on the mend

No Galway for apprentice Ana O'Brien, recovering as expected after her fall at Killarney, where she suffered multiple fractures to her neck, back and cheekbones.

Likely to be out for three to four months, she posted on her Twitter account: "I would like to say thank you very much to everyone for all their very kind messages and lovely cards, I really appreciate them. I'm doing well since my fall, improving every day and please God will keep going this way."

She made no reference to returning to race-riding, but hopefully she is not so scarred from the horrific incident in Kerry to stop her doing what she loves.


Niall McCullagh timed it brilliantly on Ken Condon's 10/1 winner Ice Cold In Alex on Saturday at the Curragh.


The 5/1 on Only Mine in Naas' feature on Wednesday looked lovely as Joe Murphy's filly romped to victory at 9/4.


"I lost 7lb in six days, but it was worth it. She is a superstar. It means a lot to me, I missed the whole of Royal Ascot and to come back to the place I love so much, it's great. She's as good as I've ridden, to win the King George by four lengths."

- Frankie Dettori after his impressive victory on King George VI And Elizabeth Stakes heroine Enable.


Breandán Ó hUiginn (@AnBainisteoir)

Davy Russell, Tony Martin, Sandra Hughes, Willie Mullins now Bryan Cooper. Abramovich more capable of loyalty.

A rather caustic take on the news that Gigginstown would no longer be using Bryan Cooper as retained rider.


200 The number of projected helicopter landings at the Galway Festival this week, according to reports. As they say on Twitter, "we are back."

1997 The year of Aidan O'Brien's triumph as Galway's leading trainer. Dermot Weld won it every year since - that was until last summer, when the 'King of Ballybrit' was dethroned by Willie Mullins.

300 The figure multiplied by a thousand that marks the prize fund for the Galway Hurdle, incredibly the richest hurdle race in Europe.


Gordon Elliott treats the notion of impossibility as an imposter.

The son of a mechanic snared the Grand National in Aintree before training a winner in his homeland and what amounted to his first real dabble with two-year-olds resulted in a Group win already this year.

Already having saddled three horses to finish second in the Galway Hurdle is not to be sniffed at though, while the race has the biggest purse of any hurdle event in Europe, second remains a lonely seclusion. Perhaps the time is nigh for a winner.

And in Timiyan he may have the answer. This JP McManus runner was trained initially by Dermot Weld, for whom he won twice at the level, including at Galway.

On his last Flat start, rated in the mid-90s, he hacked up in a handicap, meaning it was hard to put a ceiling on what he may do if he took to hurdling.

Winning at Bellewstown last time is hardly the pinnacle either. A 10lb rise brings him to 135 but the chances are he is better than that.

It remains to be seen if Barry Geraghty can do the weight, though he has the option too of riding Tigris River, also a leading fancy.


Timiyan, 1pt win 9/1

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