By Simon Clifford
He’s the rising star of horse racing who’s got the likes of AP McCoy, Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh looking anxiously over their shoulders, in more ways than one.
At just 20, Bryan Cooper – the son of Irish trainer Tom – is already the stable jockey to Dessie Hughes and after riding six winners at Cheltenham and Aintree, including three at Grade 1 Level courtesy of First Lieutenant, Our Conor and Special Tiara, is now very much in demand.
Although he may not get to ride any of the trio at Punchestown, due to connections’ regular jockey arrangements, Cooper is confident he will have a good book of rides at the Festival, which gets underway on April 24, as he looks to end the season on a high.
“I would be delighted to top off the season with a win at Punchestown, but it’s very competitive. I have a good book of rides, but I suppose I would be looking forward to riding Lyreen Legend and he would probably be my best ride at the Festival.
“He came out of Cheltenham really well, where he ran a cracker in the RSA and has had a good preparation up to now. Let’s hope he can keep sound and run a good race. When it comes to the ground with this horse, he handles soft ground really well, but it doesn’t make much of a difference to him what way the ground is.”
For more see this week’s (April 20) print edition of the Irish World