Bryan Cooper

Bryan Cooper has quickly developed into one of the leading jockeys in the weighing room. 2010/11 was a real break-out year for him, with the talented youngster claiming the coveted title of Champion Conditional Rider by a wide margin, but it was during the 2012/13 campaign that he burst onto the international scene by riding a remarkable three winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

 b cooperPrincipal Trainers: Dessie Hughes, Tom Cooper

 Notable Win:  

  • Hugh McMahon Memorial Novice Chase (Argocat 2013, Frisco Depot 2012)
  • Maghull Novices’ Chase (Special Tiara 2013)
  • Betfair Bowl Chase (First Lieutenant 2013)
  • Handicap Hurdle (Captain Arceus 2013)
  • Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle (Ted Veale 2013)
  • Triumph Hurdle (Our Conor 2013), Jewson Novices’ Chase (Benefficient 2013)
  • Spring Juvenile Hurdle (Our Conor 2013)
  • Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase (Benefficient 2013)
  • Bar One Racing Juvenile 3-Y-O Hurdle (Our Conor 2012)
  • Cork Grand National (Raz De Maree 2012)
  • Munster National (Raz De Maree 2012)
  • Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle (Lyreen Legend 2012)
  • Deloitte Novice Hurdle (Benefficient 2012)
  • Buck House Novice Chase (Lucky William 2011)
  • John Fowler Memorial European Breeders Fund Mares Chase (Coscorrig 2011)
  • Connacht Tribune Handicap Chase (Banna Man 2010)

Early Days

Bryan is certainly bred to excel in the racing industry, being a son of Tom Cooper, the trainer of Cheltenham Festival winners Total Enjoyment and Forpadydeplasterer. He cut his teeth of the showjumping and pony racing circuits before being sent up to that superb nurturer of precocious riding talent, Kevin Prendergast. He only weighed seven-and-a-half stone when starting out with Prendergast and took his first racecourse ride at the Curragh on September 14th 2008. He continued to take regular mounts without getting off the mark in the year that followed, but a growth spurt made a career as a Flat jockey look impractical and his attentions were soon switched to jumping. He took his first ride over hurdles almost a year to the day after his first ride on the Flat and it didn’t take long for him to get off the mark.

Jumping Success

Riding his father’s Rossdara in a maiden hurdle at Clonmel on October 29th 2009, Cooper produced a polished performance to guide her to an authoritative success. Having switched to the Dessie Hughes yard on the advice of Prendergast soon after, Cooper soon began to reap the rewards. That said, not long after he joined Hughes, he broke his wrist in a fall at Gowran Park and missed eight weeks of action. However, once he had returned, Cooper continued to progress over the remainder of the season, riding three more winners, but it wasn’t until the commencement of the 2010/11 season that Cooper really took off.

A Break-Out Season

His impact was immediate in the new season, with him riding the Bill Harney-trained Bruach Na Mara to success at his local track at Killarney in the opening weeks of the season. Despite missing over three weeks due to a collarbone injury, the highlight of his summer period came at the Galway Festival. Riding the Thomond O.Mara-trained Banna Man in the valuable Connacht Tribune Handicap Chase. His strong form continued through the autumn and while he, like everyone else, was slowed down the frost and snow during the winter months, Cooper really hit top form from February onwards, maintaining a remarkable strike rate in the months that followed. His boss Dessie Hughes provided him with a few notable successes such as Definite Class in a valuable novice hurdle at Fairyhouse in February and better again, a first Listed race win on Coscorrig in the John Fowler Memorial European Breeders Fund Mares Chase at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival. That win was the cherry on top of what was an excellent season, with him being crowned Champion Conditional Rider by an impressive margin of 14 winners.


Reigning Champion

2011/12 saw Cooper make a much faster start to the campaign than he had the previous season, with him enjoying a very profitable summer. Perhaps the highlight of that period was his excellent winning ride on the very tricky Action Master in a beginners chase at Kilbeggan in August. As the better horses emerged as the ground softened, Cooper enjoyed a memorable first Graded race success, riding his father’s Lucky William to a Grade 3 Buck House Novice Chase at Punchestown in October. Unfortunately, Cooper suffered a bad fall at Fairyhouse in mid-November that resulted in him fracturing the same wrist he had broken two years earlier. That saw him ruled out for a month, but he returned ready to do battle over the Christmas period. Cooper didn’t have to wait long to secure his first Grade 1 success, giving the Tony Martin-trained Benefficient a superb ride to win the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown at 50/1 in February. He added further Graded races to his CV later in the season on horses trained by Dessie Hughes, winning the Grade 2 Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles on Lyreen Legend and the Grade 2 Hugh McMahon Memorial Novice Chase at Limerick on Frisco Depot.


Hitting The Heights

As good as the previous season had been, 2012/13 would prove to be even better for Cooper. The campaign got off to a strong start for him, with him winning the Munster National and the Cork Grand National on the Dessie Hughes-trained Raz De Maree.

A few days after the latter success, Cooper had his first ride on the Hughes-trained Our Conor and the pair would enjoy a never-to-be-forgotten campaign together. Impressive wins in the Grade 3 Bar One Racing Juvenile 3-Y-O Hurdle at Fairyhouse and the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle promised much, but nothing could have prepared Cooper for the spin he got off Our Conor in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, with the son of Jeremy laughing at his rivals and streaking clear to score by 15 lengths.

Remarkably, that was not even Cooper’s first success of the week at Cheltenham, as the previous day he had ridden another old friend of his, the Tony Martin-trained Benefficient on whom he had won the Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown the previous month, to a very game success in the Grade 2 Jewson Novices’ Chase. As if two winners at the Mecca of National Hunt racing was not enough, Cooper added a third on the Tony Martin-trained Ted Veale in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle.

Cooper continued his remarkable run of form into the Aintree Grand National meeting, riding the Mouse Morris-trained First Lieutenant to success in the Grade 1 Betfair Bowl and the Henry De Bromhead-trained Special Tiara to victory in the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase. As if that wasn’t enough, back on home soil Cooper claimed the Grade 2 Hugh McMahon Memorial Novice Chase at Limerick for the second year in succession, this time on the Tom Taaffe-trained Argocat.

Now very much considered a Champion Jockey in the making, Bryan Cooper has the racing world at his feet and can be expected to be a major force in the weighing room for many years to come.

Info supplied by Horse Racing Ireland - Updated May 2013