Sunday 25 February 2018

Game Changer takes Roscommon prize

Bryan Cooper won feature race at Roscommon on The Game Changer
Bryan Cooper won feature race at Roscommon on The Game Changer

Thomas Kelly

Gordon Elliott and Bryan Cooper teamed up to claim the featured Kilbegnet Novice Chase with The Game Changer at Roscommon.

Sizing Platinum was sent off the odds-on favourite after making a flawless start to his chasing career but he was no match for the Michael O'Leary-owned The Game Changer, which had appeared to have his limitations exposed over fences when put in his place by Rock The World at Galway.

But with Johnny Burke rowing away on the market leader from some way out, Bryan Cooper was sitting pretty and when he asked the 11/10 second favourite at the second last, his mount responded and jumped to the front.

There was two and half lengths between the pair at the line.

"He was criticised the last day at Galway but to be fair it was never going to suit as two-mile-two was stretching him," said Cooper. "Today he had two miles on good ground and that is really what he wants. The more jumping that is in it for him the better.

"I got a lovely lead, didn't jump as well as I'd like and I was probably in front too soon. I thought Johnny would take me to the last but I winged the second-last.

"He did it well and he's paying his way. I'd say he won't be knocked about in the winter and he'll be brought back for some of the Festivals, something like the Grand Annual (at Cheltenham) could suit him as good ground is key."

Earlier on the card Gary Halpin was taken to hospital for checks on an arm injury after his mount Our Rachael clipped heels in the Athlone Apprentice Handicap and threw him to the ground. The race was won by the Colin Bowe-trained Tawseef (8/1) under Ian Queally.

In the Roscommon On-Course Vets Handicap Chase it was evident once again just how close-knit bunch jump-jockeys are when Danny Mullins gave Jody McGarvey a helping hand.

McGarvey was riding Old Supporter, which made a bad blunder early in the contest. Just as it looked like he was about to fall out the side door, Mullins, riding Clondaw Dude, spotted his predicament and shoved him back into the saddle.

It did neither man any good as far as the result was concerned as both horses were pulled up and the spoils eventually went to the Karl Thornton-trained Colms Dream (5/1), which was steered over nine lengths clear of runner-up Churchfield Champ by Donagh Meyler up the straight.

Irish Independent

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