Bryan Cooper will have his first competitive ride since his horror fall at the Cheltenham Festival when he partners the Dessie Hughes-trained Guitar Pete in the Dunraven Arms Hotel Hurdle at Limerick tomorrow.
The retained jockey for the powerful Gigginstown House Stud operation suffered a complicated multiple fracture of his right leg when Clarcam crashed out in the Fred Winter Hurdle in March.
Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Irish Turf Club chief medical officer, described the leg break at the time as “the worst fracture I have ever seen in a lower limb”.
Guitar Pete was a dual Grade One winner last season, landing the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown and the 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree, as well as finishing third in the Triumph at Cheltenham.
He faces three opponents at Limerick, with Gordon Elliott’s Clarcam ironically among them.
“It’s been a long time off and I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things,” said Cooper.
“It was a bad break, but I was very well looked after and they got it sorted out pretty quickly and I’ve never had any setbacks since the word go.
“There’s been a lot of physio and rehab for the last five months. I’ve been up in the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry. It’s a great place and I’ve been there three days a week.
“They’ve been putting me through the works the last couple of months and I probably wouldn’t have been back as quick if I hadn’t been there.
“It was frustrating. I missed three winners in Cheltenham, but you have to look at the bigger picture. It was only a broken leg and it would have been a lot worse. I’ve been riding out a good month or six weeks now. I’ve been in Dessie Hughes’ quite a lot and riding out in a lot of yards where Gigginstown have horses.
“It’s getting busy now for the next couple of months getting horses schooled and it’s something to look forward to.”
Clarcam is one of two runners for the Gigginstown team, with the Tony Martin-trained The Plan Man also declared to run.
The quartet is completed by Aidan O’Brien’s Plinth.
Cooper plans to select his mounts carefully as he eases his way back into action.
“I’m just going to pick and choose for the next few weeks,” the jockey said. “The ground is still quick and a lot of the winter horses won’t be out for a few weeks.
“My boss, Michael O’Leary, and my other boss, Dessie Hughes, have been good and have said there is no panic. They don’t want me rushing things.
“Michael was kind enough to let me off to ride Guitar Pete on Sunday as he felt he was a good ride for me to come back on. It’s a bit ironic (Clarcam is running). It’s the first run of the year for both of them and hopefully either can run a very good race.”
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