Noel Meade’s Road To Riches finished a close third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and a reproduction of that effort would give him every chance.
However, Cooper could also have ridden the Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack, also owned by Gigginstown House Stud, who took his form to a new level when winning easily over two and a half miles at Aintree.
Cooper said: “Road To Riches ran a cracker in the Gold Cup.
“I sat on him the other day and he’s in great form. We’re hoping the rain stays away until after the race as that will definitely help him.
“We skipped Aintree but, of course, both him and Djakadam had hard races at Cheltenham.
“He seems in top form at home, but you never know until the race itself if the last run has left its mark.
“Don Cossack has had a great season and it wasn’t an easy decision, but Road To Riches has finished third in a Gold Cup. There’s a chance I could have got it wrong, but that’s the game we’re in and I’ve got two very good horses to look forward to next season.
“The trip is obviously the big question mark for Don Cossack. He’s come out of Aintree well, but he’s not had much of a break and he’ll need to be on his A-game to win.”
Willie Mullins admits he will not know how much the Cheltenham efforts of Djakadam took out of him until he runs.
Djakadam finished second behind Coneygree in what looked a gruelling race, but several horses who ran in the Gold Cup have performed well since then, not least Many Clouds in the Grand National.
The champion trainer also runs the Graham Wylie-owned pair of On His Own and Boston Bob, winner of the race last year.
“It was a very searching, testing pace (in the Gold Cup) and, for a six-year-old, Djakadam did well to finish second,” Mullins said.
“He did well to be in a challenging position over the second-last and last. If that hasn’t taken too much out of him, I think he’ll run a big race. Boston Bob always runs a good race. He likes this track and would have an each-way chance.
“On His Own goes better right-handed.”
Leading the British contingent is David Pipe’s Ballynagour, narrowly beaten by Silviniaco Conti at Aintree on just his second run over three miles.
He ran at the Punchestown Festival last year, finishing second to Sizing Europe over two miles.
“I’d always thought he’d stay three miles, which was way we ran him in the Hennessy, and I think that day he just wasn’t fit enough and blew up, rather than not seeing out the trip,” said Pipe.
“He’s been lightly raced and is a hard horse to keep fit, but he’s shown that when we can train him properly, he’s very talented.
“It was a great run at Aintree after so long off and I’m looking forward to it.”
Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card has not been able to recapture his very best since returning from a spell on the sidelines, but he took a step back in the right direction when second to Don Cossack at Aintree, albeit beaten a long way.
“The way he travelled and jumped, he looked back to his old self for a long way at Aintree,” said Tizzard’s son and assistant Joe.
“He made a mistake three out and I thought that he could have fallen in a hole after that but he ran all the way to the line. He hadn’t run since the King George so there’s no reason he can’t improve for the outing.”
The Giant Bolster was pulled up in the Gold Cup and makes his first trip to Punchestown for trainer David Bridgwater.
“He’s not had a hard season, like most of the others, and I think what happened at Cheltenham is that he’s just a bit older and wiser these days,” said Bridgwater.
- Jessica Harrington has been successful in her appeal against the decision of the Tipperary stewards over the running and riding of High Tail It.
Harrington was initially fined €1,000, jockey Mark Bolger banned for seven days and the horse prevented from running for 42 days.
On hearing evidence from both Harrington and Bolger, the Turf Club’s appeals body decided Harrington had not used the racecourse as a training ground but that Bolger could have given High Tail It a more forceful ride.
Bolger had his ban reduced from seven days to four (May 1, 2, 5 and 8).