'No decision' on Gigginstown job
Bryan Cooper kept his name firmly in the frame for the Gigginstown job with a double at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day.
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However Eddie O'Leary, racing manager for his brother Michael's powerful racing and breeding operation, insisted on Wednesday that they are yet to firm up a successor to Davy Russell, who managed two seconds from three rides in O'Leary's colours at Tramore on his final day as first-choice rider for the operation.
"We haven't decided anything. We're talking to a few and there's no news yet. When we know, you'll know," said O'Leary.
Bookmakers Paddy Power quote Cooper, who rode Lieutenant Colonel to win in the Gigginstown colours at Fairyhouse, at 1/5 to get the job.
Lieutenant Colonel confirmed himself a smart prospect with victory in the New Year Maiden Hurdle .
The five-year-old was regaining winning ways after being beaten by the potentially top-notch Vautour at Navan last month.
Cooper brought the Dessie Hughes-trained five-year-old to challenge To Choose for the lead on the turn for home.
Jumping the second-last just in front, Lieutenant Colonel pulled clear and put in a fine leap at the final flight to go and win by 14 lengths.
It was a particularly notable success for trainer Dessie Hughes, who saddled his first winner in this race in 1980 in the shape of Church Island, which he rode himself.
Hughes said of the even-money favourite: "He improved from Navan and looks a decent horse.
"He looks a stayer and is a great jumper. The majority of Gigginstown horses jump exceptionally well.
"He should be able to compete in a few of the novices after that, and the horse that beat him in Navan must be a fair horse."
Asked about the prospect of possibly losing Cooper as his stable jockey, Hughes said: "It would be a good job for him, but a big blow for me. It's taken me four years to make him - he's matured now and he's at his best.
"Hopefully he would still ride for me as much as he can."
Cooper and Hughes completed a double when Off The Charts, owned by JP McManus, took the Special Offers In Bobbyjo Bistro Handicap Hurdle, the 4/1 co-favourite getting the better of Day Dream Boy by a length and a half.
"It's good that he's won anyway. He went up 4lb the last day for finishing second," said Hughes.