Bryan Cooper: has showcased talents at Cheltenham Festival and AintreePICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Cooper aiming to end on a high at Punchestown
RISING star Bryan Cooper is keen to sign off his most memorable season in winning style at Punchestown.
The 20-year-old stable jockey to Dessie Hughes has shone with six winners at Cheltenham and Aintree, including three at Grade 1 level courtesy of First Lieutenant, Our Conor and Special Tiara.
Although he may not be able to ride any of that trio if they line up at Punchestown due to connections' regular jockey arrangements, Cooper said on Wednesday that his book is still shaping up well and that star among his mounts are set to be RSA Chase second Lyreen Legend and Jewson Novices' Chase winner Benefficient.
He said: "If the horses and I get there in one piece, then I have a great book of rides at Punchestown and it would be great to top off this year with a win there.
"I have a good job already, but I have been so lucky to have had so many other big trainers, like Henry de Bromhead, Mouse Morris, Tony Martin and Tom Taaffe, give me chances this year too.
"Cheltenham really gets your name out there and then to have winners at Aintree and a fifth place in the Grand National on Rare Bob was amazing.
That was some thrill."
He added: "Lyreen Legend ran a cracker in the RSA, just getting passed by Lord Windermere on the run to the line. Every race this year he's run well and I'm looking forward to him going to Punchestown.
"Benefficient has really put me on the map. He was my first Grade 1 winner last year and my first Cheltenham winner this year. He's had a hard season up to Cheltenham, but skipping Fairyhouse and Aintree should leave him fresh and well for Punchestown."
Benefficient and Lyreen Legend hold entries in the 3m1f Growise Champion Novice Chase on the opening evening (April 23) with Benefficient also entered in the shorter Ryanair Novice Chase two days later.