Cooper out to keep the Peace but faces Drinmore dilemma
Gigginstown's number one Bryan Cooper bounced back from his Fighting Fifth tumble on Petit Mouchoir last Saturday to land the Troytown Chase at Navan 24 hours later – and it could be another big weekend for him at Fairyhouse with leading Supreme fancy Peace News set to tackle the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and the jockey facing the choice of up to six mounts in the Drinmore.
The five-day forfeits for Sunday's three Grade 1 races were revealed on Tuesday and featured a host of stars, including the mighty Faugheen, who remains on course for the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle.
Cooper will have his work cut out deciding on his Drinmore ride. Gigginstown are responsible for six of the nine possibles and among the half-dozen is RSA favourite Alpha Des Obeaux and leading JLT fancy A Toi Phil.
"I've not got a clue who I'll ride in the Drinmore yet but there are some really good novices in there. It will be a few days before I make up my mind," Cooper told the Racing Post.
Mouse Morris is keen for Alpha Des Obeaux to take his chance, despite his worries about the trip.
The trainer said: "Hopefully, if he's sound, he'll run at Fairyhouse. It's two and a half miles but he wants three. He's been adequate over fences so far but the form's working out okay. I was surprised to see him made favourite for the RSA after Cork but they're probably sticking it on his Cheltenham run [in the World Hurdle]."
Peace News certainly looked the part when winning a hot maiden hurdle at Cork this month and was slashed to 9-1 second favourite for the Supreme by Paddy Power afterwards.
"Peace News looked very, very good at Cork," said Cooper. "I've spoken to Henry [De Bromhead] and it looks as though he's going to go down the Royal Bond route.
"I thought that was one of the best maiden hurdles of the season so far at Cork and the way he quickened up really impressed me.
"Gordon's horse [runner-up Chirico Vallis] is held in high regard as was Willie's [Timi Roll], so for him to win that in the manner he did was very good to see."
With Apple's Jade unlikely to make a quick reappearance in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle, Cooper will be on board the experienced Dedigout.
The jockey added: "He's been a great moneyspinner over the years and never lets us down. I just hopes it buckets down over the next few days. If we do get plenty of showers, it would bring him right into the mix."
It has been a frustrating few months for Cooper, who has suffered a number of horrific injuries and was forced to watch Valseur Lido win the JNWine Champion Chase at Down Royal under Ruby Walsh while he was on the sidelines.
But his ability to bounce back is admirable, as he showed on Empire of Dirt at Navan last Sunday, and he hopes his luck has changed.
The jockey said: "Things have not gone my way of late so it was a massive relief to win the big one at Navan. I could not believe it when Petit Mouchoir came down in the Fighting Fifth. I had loads of horse under me and could not have been travelling any better.
"Then, I was convinced Apple's Jade had got up, but I do think I made the right choice there."
Cooper will be under the spotlight again on Sunday, but he loves the pressure.
"I thrive for the big Sundays and they don't get much bigger than this one at Fairyhouse," he said. "I can't wait."
Hatton's Grace Hurdle (Paddy Power): 1-3 Faugheen, 11-2 Shaneshill, 7 Apples Jade, 8 Nichols Canyon, Vroum Vroum Mag, 10 Monksland, 12 Dedigout, Ivanovich Gorbatov, 16 Whiteout, 33 Clondaw Warrior.
Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (Paddy Power): 15-8 Peace News, 11-4, Penhill, 10-3 Labaik, 7-2 Saturnas, 6-1 Airlie Beach, 14-1 Le Martalin, 20-1 Forge Meadow, 50-1 Bilko.