sport

Cooper begins new role

Bryan Cooper has his first significant ride since being appointed as the new number one jockey for Gigginstown House Stud on Monday.

He is set to partner Toner D'Oudairies in the Thurles Racecourse Supporters Club Chase.

Champion jockey Davy Russell was informed on New Year's Eve he would no longer be the principal rider for one of the sport's biggest owners and Cooper, who has enjoyed Grade One success for the team on First Lieutenant and Roi Du Mee, quickly emerged as a hot favourite to take over.

Cooper described his appointment as a "great honour" when it was confirmed on Friday and he officially begins his new job in County Tipperary on Monday.

The 21-year-old partnered the Gordon Elliott-trained Toner D'Oudairies to victory at Punchestown earlier this season and gets back on board as he faces three opponents in the Listed feature event.

Elliott has been pleased with his charge since his fine second behind Arvika Ligeonniere in the Clonmel Oil Chase in mid-November, when Russell was in the saddle.

Elliott said: "He seems in good old form and we're looking forward to getting him out again. It's a while since he ran, but I'm hopeful he'll run a big race."

Asked about Cooper's appointment, the trainer said: "I'm sure it will work out grand."

Gigginstown manager Eddie O'Leary, brother of the stud's owner and Ryanair supremo Michael O'Leary, on Friday confirmed Russell would continue to ride for team and he takes the ride on Charlie Swan's Make A Track in the same race.

The quartet of runners is completed by the Willie Mullins-trained Rupert Lamb and James Mangan's Letter Of Credit.

Cooper begins the day with the ride on Gigginstown's Desertmore Stream in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle.

Philip Fenton's smart bumper performer should be hard to beat on his jumping bow.