Gold Cup winner Bryan Cooper makes breeze-up debut at Ascot sale
Leading rider is set to offer a two-year-old son of Morpheus
The last time Bryan Cooper was at Ascot he was aboard Finian's Oscar when the pair finished an agonising second, beaten just a short head, behind Benatar in the Grade 2 Mitie Noel Novices' Chase.
Having returned to the Berkshire venue on Wednesday, Cooper was hoping for a change of fortunes. But instead of being given the leg up, on this occasion he was keeping his feet firmly on the ground, with the Gold Cup-winning rider on hand as the finishing touches were applied to the Morpheus colt he is consigning at Thursday's Tattersalls Ireland Ascot Breeze-Up Sale.
Cooper and Cormac O'Flynn's offering - a £15,000 pinhook catalogued as Lot 111 - sees the pair listed on the vendors' index for the first time, though Cooper explained that this is not strictly their first venture into the world of bloodstock.
"I've always had a good interest in the Flat," he said. "And Cormac is big into it as well. We've been involved for the last three years but this is the first time we've gone out and consigned under our own name.
"It's a new venture so we'll see how it goes, but we're looking forward to getting started. It's something a bit different and it takes your mind off racing a little bit."
Not that there is much racing on anyone's mind at present, with the unseasonably wet weather playing havoc with the spring schedule. But despite the testing conditions, Cooper declared himself happy with how his debut offering breezed up the sodden Ascot turf.
"The ground isn't ideal but Ascot isn't as bad as some of the tracks as it never gets really deep," he said. "He's a nice horse and hopefully a few people will come and have a look at him now."
While Cooper and O'Flynn have parted with their own hard earned on their horses, the pair were able to call on the invaluable assistance of some seasoned yearling judges during the selection process.
"Mouse O'Ryan was a good help when we were purchasing the horses as yearlings, he put us in the right direction," said Cooper. "And obviously dad [Tom Cooper] has been in racing for a very long time so he was keeping a close eye on us and wasn't letting me do anything stupid."
But selecting the right raw materials is only half the battle when consigning breeze-up horses and, despite the National Hunt season being in full swing, Cooper has been hands-on in the preparation of the six-strong team of two-year-olds he has assembled.
"I've been home once or twice a week and I've sat on them all myself, as have Chris Geoghegan and Michael Hussey, they've been a big help to me," he said. "The horses have been to the Curragh and have had plenty of days away, just to get them to see different things. It's all about getting them to learn new things at this stage."
And having ridden for many of the biggest powerhouse stables in jump racing, as well as having picked the brains of some of the sharpest minds in the breeze-up game, Cooper has been able to apply a depth of knowledge far beyond his tender years.
"We've watched certain people closely and picked up different bits and pieces that we've seen them doing," he said. "It's the same as when you're growing up as a jockey, you watch everyone around you and pick up bits from different people.
"Obviously it's something totally different, but we've put a lot of work into it now and hopefully we've left no stone unturned. They're certainly a bit faster than some of the horses I'm riding at the minute!"
The pair will also be consigning at Goffs UK next week, as well as the upcoming Tattersalls Craven and Guineas sales, but with tension mounting as the Ascot sale approaches, Cooper was trying to take matters one step at a time.
"I'm enjoying it and if we do ok hopefully we can build on this and start expanding a bit," he said. "It's a different chapter, though, so we'll see how we get on. I'm more nervous now than I was going out on Don Cossack in the Gold Cup!"
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