An unseat and a last place: no dream start for Cooper in Potts role
As first days in a new job go, Bryan Cooper's was an inauspicious one as he started life as leading owner Alan Potts's retained rider in Britain at a grey and damp Ludlow on Wednesday.
Announced in the role a day earlier after weeks of speculation as to where his future may lie, the Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning rider began the partnership immediately, and his two rides added intrigue to a relatively low-key fixture at the Shropshire track.
With two-time Grade 1 winner Finian's Oscar another Potts-owned, Colin Tizzard-trained star primed to return at Chepstow on Saturday, Cooper will be hoping brighter days are just around the corner after both of his mounts failed to fire.
The rider unseated three fences from home on Mick Thonic in the 2m novice handicap chase after his first ride in the Potts silks, Exxaro, finished a tailed-off last in the 3m handicap chase.
However the 25-year-old, who was axed as Gigginstown House Stud’s retained jockey in July, was glad to get the new chapter started.
"It's a great opportunity, there are a lot of fantastic horses and I'm looking forward to it," he said.
Since losing the number one role with Gigginstown, speculation has been rife that the Irish jockey, who had the racing world at his feet when announcing himself on the biggest stage of all with three winners at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, will relocate to Britain.
Yet on Wednesday, he stressed he plans to adopt the same approach as many others past and present in the Irish weighing room and travel over when required.
"We'll figure it out week by week, I'm over for a couple of days now and I'll be going there [Tizzard's yard] tomorrow morning to get a feel for the place," he said.
"I'll base myself in Ireland and see how it goes. I had a chat with Ruby [Walsh] yesterday about how it all might work out and he told me to enjoy it."
Cooper has a gentleman's agreement to ride for another owner in Andrew Brooks, for whom he won a Market Rasen bumper last month, and when asked whether he will seek to forge new links with trainers in Britain, he replied: "My agent Ciaran O'Toole is doing a great job and we'll have to see how it goes."
The arrangement means Cooper will be first-choice rider on the Potts stars based in Britain, while Robbie Power will be aboard the owner's Irish-based horses – including Gold Cup hero Sizing John – and it could be only a matter of days before the partnership is cemented with victory.
Tizzard's son and assistant Joe said: "I went to Chepstow this morning and the plan to run Finian's Oscar, Alary, Sizing Codelco and Vision Des Flos for Alan and Bryan will ride them all."
"Bryan's record speaks for itself and while he's a bit frustrated he couldn't seal the link-up with a winner today, it'll come."
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