Article by Darren O’Conghaile
County Kerry born jockey Bryan Cooper started his career as an apprentice jockey on the Flat, with Curragh based trainer Kevin Prendergast nevertheless he only achieved one winner on the Flat he astutely decided to go down the national hunt path. Almost automatically into his profession as a national hunt jockey Cooper was in serious demand, so much so, that he claimed the title of Champion Conditional Rider in 2010/11 with great ease.
“There was no-one quite like Cooper at that time, he was riding with considerable self-confidence in the saddle”
The zenith moment of Cooper’s career was when he rode three winners at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013. He was then hired by Michael O’Leary to be the retained rider of his Gigginstown House Stud operation in January 2014. Cooper accepted the job that some punters termed “The poison chalice” as the Gigginstown operation rapidly got rid of jockey Davy Russell, for no obvious reason still what a incidental chance for young Cooper to prove his apparent talent in the saddle to a wider audience.
With the highs, there are always severe lows, Cooper suffered a broken leg in a fall from Clarcam in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014, he spent seven long months on the side-lines. The Cheltenham festival was kinder to him the following year, where he partnered the Willie Mullins-trained Don Poli to success in the RSA Chase, he then ascended new heights at the Festival in 2016 where he savoured his biggest success to date when taking the Gold Cup on the Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack.
Cooper then lost his status as retained rider to Gigginstown House Stud on Friday, July 28th, just three days before the start of the 2017 Galway festival, which was a significant blow for the young man. From hero to zero in a matter of weeks, leaving him essentially stranded, starting from the bottom up was the only way to salvage his career.
“With great power, there comes great responsibility”, this quote is comparable to Bryan Cooper’s circumstances, he has attained what some jockeys will never accomplish in a lifetime and also attained a blow that some jockeys could never bounce back from nevertheless Davy Russell is a prime example “There is life after Gigginstown” and you never know what might happen with them in the future.
The last few years have been slow enough for Cooper nonetheless his statistical record is impressive for the number of rides he is currently receiving, he may not be riding the best thoroughbreds in the races, though he still has the ability of gaining the best position with his exceptional horsemanship that got him in the position of great power in the past. it’s only a matter of time before he re-enters the limelight, until then I am more than contented to be getting a good price on his booked rides.