Bryan Cooper is looking to make the most of a “great opportunity” after being confirmed as the new first-choice rider for prominent owner Alan Potts’ British-based string.
The leading Irish jockey suffered a major blow earlier this year after losing the job as number one to Gigginstown House Stud, for whom he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Don Cossack.
With opportunities on home soil having been thin on the ground, media speculation last month suggested Cooper could be about to make the move to ride full-time in Britain, but he released a statement saying “there are no significant agreements in place at this time and I will continue to be based in Ireland.”
However, Cooper has made fleeting trips across the Irish Sea in recent weeks to ride horses either owned or part-owned by Andrew Brooks and he is set to be seen on British tracks even more frequently in the coming weeks and months after agreeing to ride the Potts-owned horses that are based in the UK.
The new relationship kicks off at Ludlow today, with Cooper booked to ride the Colin Tizzard-trained pair of Exxaro and Mick Thonic in Shropshire.
Cooper said: “I’m definitely looking forward to it and it’s a great opportunity.
“They (Potts and Tizzard) have some fantastic horses.”
Cooper’s first high-profile ride in the new role could be dual Grade One-winning hurdler Finian’s Oscar, who is pencilled in to make his debut over fences at Chepstow on Saturday, although Tizzard is keeping an eye on the weather, with give in the ground essential.
“I haven’t spoken to Colin or anybody, but I’ll be in there (Tizzard’s yard) on Thursday morning and I imagine I’ll know a bit more then,” Cooper added.
“It’s fantastic. I can’t believe it to be honest.”
Cooper’s fellow Irishman Robbie Power rode Finian’s Oscar on his final two starts of last season after signing up as retained rider for Potts and his late wife Ann.
He also enjoyed big-race success aboard Tizzard inmates Fox Norton, Pingshou, Sizing Codelco and Sizing Granite in the spring.
Although Cooper looks set to take over many of those rides this season, Power will continue to ride the owner’s Irish-trained horses, including Jessica Harrington’s Sizing John, who he steered to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in March.
Tizzard said: “Bryan Cooper is going to ride the Alan Potts-owned horses in Britain and Robbie Power will ride the ones trained in Ireland. Bryan is a very good rider and Alan wanted continuity.
“Bryan is a top-class rider and we are happy to have him on bo
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