Bryan Cooper has spent time on both sides of the Irish Sea and emerged as a talented jockey at a very young age, which put him in the spotlight early. He is the son of trainer Tom Cooper, with many other people in his family working in the horse racing industry, so it was a pretty obvious path from quite early in his life for Bryan.
He would work at his father’s yard and was also given the opportunity to work with Dessie Hughes at a very young age for further experience. Eventually, Cooper decided it was the right time to leave and go alone, which landed him a position with flat trainer Kevin Prendergarst. This would ultimately lead to Cooper having his first ride under rules on a racecourse, which came at The Curragh in September 2008, when he was just 16.
Setting his sights on flat racing initially, a growth spurt would end that, and Cooper would return to the Dessie Hughes yard, where he would become involved in national hunt racing again, setting him on the right career path.
The winners over jumps began to come quickly, both for his father and for Dessie Hughes, while he was also catching the eye of others and beginning to get more and more outside rides. In the 2010/11 season, he won his first race at Listed level, while he was also the winner of the conditional jockeys’ championship.
A year later, in the 2011/12 season, things went from strength to strength for him. Cooper had 36 total winners, a fantastic total, and they include his first-ever Grade One success. This came on the Tony Martin-trained Benefficient in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown while also landing two Grade Two winners alongside that success.
Bryan Cooper Grand National Wins
Bryan Cooper has never won the Grand National.
Their best finish to date was in 2013 with Rare Bob who came 5th.
|2022||Discorama||Fence 13 - Pulled Up||-||Paul Nolan|
|2017||Rogue Angel||Fence 30 - Pulled Up||-||Michael “Mouse” Morris|
|2016||First Lieutenant||Fence 2 - Fell||-||Michael “Mouse” Morris|
|2013||Rare Bob||5||£25,838||Dessie Hughes|
|2012||Rare Bob||Fence 5 - Brought Down||-||Dessie Hughes|
Cheltenham Festival Success
The Cheltenham Festival is the stage where many jockeys really make their mark, and it is no different for Cooper, who shot to fame thanks to excellent success at the meeting. This began with the 2013 Cheltenham Festival. Cooper would record three victories at the meeting, winning the Golden Miller Novice Chase on Benefficient, the Triumph Hurdle on Our Conor and the County Hurdle on Ted Veale.
Ruby Walsh was the star of the weighing room at the time, a huge figure in Irish racing, and Cooper ended with just one less winner than Walsh that season, showing just how impressive he had been.
The 2014 Cheltenham Festival was supposed to be the moment that Cooper really took the next step forward and cemented his position as one of the best in Ireland, but injury hit at the wrong time. At the start of 2014, he’d been rewarded with the job of being the number one rider for the Gigginstown Stud, taking over from Davy Russell. However, a fall on the second day of the festival left Cooper with two fractures in his leg, ending his week.
2016 was the year he came back with a bang, though, with what is so far the biggest win of his career. Still with Gigginstown at this moment, Cooper rode their horse Don Casssack to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. This was a huge moment on the biggest stage, though it would not be enough to keep the partnership together, as they split in the summer, despite Cooper continuing to ride for them on a less frequent basis.
Cooper took his first ride in the Grand National back in 2006, riding Rare Bob for Dessie Hughes. The pair would fail to complete the course as the horse was brought down at the fifth fence.