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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Gold Cup hero Cooper experiencing a very different sort of festival

Bryan Cooper celebrates victory on Apple's Jade in the 2017 Mares' Hurdle
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No one knows more about the ups and downs of sport than a jump jockey. After encountering plenty of ups at the Cheltenham Festival, Bryan Cooper is this year having to deal with the downer of an altogether less exciting week.

Since bursting on to the festival scene with three winners in 2013, Cooper has increased his total to eight, claiming the biggest race of all, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, aboard Don Cossack, before sporting the same Gigginstown House Stud colours to two wins last year, including aboard Apple's Jade.

For Cooper, rides are this year as hard to find as winners.

Since being dropped by Gigginstown supremo Michael O'Leary the 25-year-old has struggled for mounts. Hopes of picking up quality Cheltenham firepower for the Potts family also disappeared recently when Colin Tizzard made clear he would use Robbie Power on his members of the 'Sizing' string.

Bryan Cooper walks into the paddock ahead of his winning ride on Finian's Oscar at the Cheltenham Festival last year

As such, Cooper on Tuesday had only a single excursion on an outsider trained by Venetia Williams, who will supply his only ride, again in a handicap, on Thursday. There is nothing for him on Wednesday.

And yet it is unlikely that Cooper in 2018 is any better or worse than Cooper in 2017. Fate can play a significant part in the career of a jockey. A big-priced Cheltenham victory for the young man, whilst perhaps unlikely, could send out a powerful message. 

Pub paucity

If you can't make it to the festival what's the best way to follow the action from central London?

There are not many options judging from the response to Northampton One after posting on Trip Advisor: "Hello all, Looking for a decent pub in London that show the horseracing live on TV? The Cheltenham Festival starts tomorrow and I was looking for some local knowledge on the best boozers to spend the day in eating and drinking and wasting my hard-earned money."

Apart from a link to an out-of-date website, the only other reply came: "There's a Betfred on Baker Street around the corner from The Globe."

Festival frustration

This comment, meanwhile, from a Racing Post blog user, suggested there was some frustration to be had on day one. Twas ever thus at racecourses, the Dikler can't help but feel.

They posted: "Farcical scenes on course at Cheltenham. First race had no commentary in the bars, now all the Tote machines are down. And the bars are queuing more than ever due to clueless staff. How long have they had to prepare! Not good at all Cheltenham."


Since being dropped by Gigginstown supremo Michael O'Leary the 25-year-old has struggled for mounts
E.W. Terms
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