Bryan Cooper calls time on riding career

The 30-year-old won nine races at the Cheltenham Festival, his career highlight coming when Don Cossack won the Gold Cup in 2016
Bryan Cooper calls time on riding career

GOLDEN MOMENT: Bryan Cooper kisses the Gold Cup after Don Cossack landed the blue riband in 2016. Picture: Healy Racing

Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning rider Bryan Cooper has announced his retirement from the saddle with immediate effect.

The 30-year-old enjoyed the highlight of his career when partnering the Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack to victory at Prestbury Park in 2016, having also landed Down Royal's Champion Chase earlier in the campaign.

He bows out with a clutch of Grade One victories to his credit, and nine Cheltenham Festival victories overall.

In a statement posted on Twitter, he said: "After much careful thought and consideration for some time, I am officially announcing my retirement from race riding with immediate effect.

"I've been lucky to have had a wonderful career over the past 14 years as a jockey. To my family, the owner, trainers, and stable staff who have supported me throughout my whole career, I can't thank you enough for some incredible days.

"It is time for me to move on to the next chapter in my life and I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me."

Our Conor was another Cheltenham winner for Cooper, landing the 2013 Triumph Hurdle in effortless style, while Don Poli, Apple's Jade, and Road To Respect were other key horses in his career.

The last-named trio were all owned by Gigginstown House Stud, for whom Cooper was retained rider for three years between 2014 and 2017.

Son of trainer Tom Cooper, he claimed the title of Ireland's champion conditional rider in the 2010-11 season, but suffered some terrible luck with injuries, most notably breaking his leg in a fall from Clarcam in the 2014 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle — an issue which kept him on the sidelines for seven months.

Cooper enjoyed his best Irish season in 2015-16 when he rode 94 winners and he had partnered 26 winners this term.

He did not ride at last week's Cheltenham Festival and was unseated by Farceur Du Large on his final ride at Naas on March 12.

His final winner came six days earlier at Leopardstown when he partnered Wa Wa to win a handicap hurdle.

Don Cossack's trainer Elliott was among the first to take to Twitter to wish Cooper well in the future.

He said: "Happy Retirement @92bryan92. We've had some great days together. Best of luck for the future from all of us at Cullentra House Stables."

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