Cooper 'badly winded' in Naas fall
Bryan Cooper took home a double but must pass the racecourse doctor in order to ride at the Cheltenham Festival scare on a rollercoaster day at Naas.
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Also in the wars was Paul Carberry, who picked up a minor ankle injury when Mullaghhanoe River fell behind the Cooper-ridden Bright New Dawn in the Naas Directors Plate Novices' Chase, but he too is expected to be fit for the Festival.
Cooper was reported to be "badly winded" by Turf Club senior medical officer Adrian McGoldrick after his fall from Allied Victory in the Sunday Market at Naas Racecourse Maiden Hurdle.
Thrown to the ground at speed when his mount stepped at a flight, Cooper was quickly back on his feet but received treatment on the spot from medical staff before making his way back to the weighing room for further assessment.
McGoldrick said: "Bryan was badly winded, but I can't find anything clinically wrong with him.
"He had a soft tissue injury on his forehead, just from the force of his helmet.
"He is flying out tonight to Cheltenham, so he will have to be passed by the doctor at the course on Tuesday.
"Paul is fine, he was stood down just as a precaution. He has a slight ankle ligament strain, but nothing to worry about and he'll see me in the morning."
It had all started out well for Cooper when Empire Of Dirt ran out a decisive winner of the Irish Racing Writers Kingsfurze Novice Hurdle.
Tony Martin's Quickpick Vic was the 2/1 favourite to claim the Listed prize, taking a significant drop in class having finished fourth behind Vautour and The Tullow Tank in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last month.
The market leader moved into contention travelling smoothly at the top of the home straight, but his challenge petered out and he was back-pedalling by the time he unseated Carberry at the final flight.
Colm Murphy's 5/1 shot Empire Of Dirt, second to Faugheen at Navan in December, was sent to the lead heading down the back straight by Bryan Cooper and quickened up well after jumping two from home.
Fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned runner The Game Changer tried to throw down a challenge on the run-in, but Empire Of Dirt was always doing enough and passed the post two lengths to the good.
Murphy said: "He's threatened to win a good one and he's a horse that's had a few hiccups, but he stuck his head out well there.
"Whatever he does before going chasing over three miles is a bonus.
"All the family want a trip and hopefully he'll keep improving."
Cooper and Gigginstown swiftly doubled up as the Dessie Hughes-trained Bright New Dawn justified odds-on favouritism in the Naas Directors Plate Novice Chase.
Winner of the Grade Two Flyingbolt Novice Chase at Navan last month, the seven-year-old was an 8-11 market-leader to follow up in this Grade Three test and jumped accurately at the head of affairs throughout.
Mullaghanoe River was throwing down a serious challenge when he dumped Carberry on the turf two fences from the finish and may well have made a race of it, as Bright New Dawn had to be driven out by Cooper to get the job done by seven and a half lengths from Letter Of Credit.
Hughes said: "He was a bit free and was taking a bit too much out of himself, but he was fine and the second horse is not too bad.
"He'll probably go for the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse.
"A bit better ground would be fine. He's no trouble getting two and a half miles, but it was a bit tacky today."
Father-son combination Tony and Danny Mullins teamed up to claim the Naas Supporters Handicap Hurdle with 11/1 shot Sammy Black.
Rory O'Moore swiftly built up a long lead over 16 rivals and at one stage appeared to have nicked the race, as he still held a healthy advantage rounding the turn for home.
However, he began to tread water between the final two flights and while he was still in front jumping the last, it was inevitable he was going to be caught.
Sammy Black stayed on well in the colours of Barry Connell to take the spoils by a length and three-quarters, with Hazariban second and the gallant Rory O'Moore in third.
The winning trainer said: "We haven't had many runners this winter. The recession seems to have hit me harder than anyone.
"It's nice to see they are back running well again - I think our last six runners have all been in the money and it's nice to get a winner.
"This horse, without being a really classy horse, is very reliable and I think he's been the closest to Un De Sceaux (beaten six lengths) since he came to Ireland.
"Off his present mark (113), he's capable of winning again."
Danny Mullins was on the mark again in the feature Woodlands Park 100 Club Leinster National when he replaced Carberry, who by now had been stood down for the day, aboard 11/2 chance Gallant Oscar.
As retained rider for owner Barry Connell, Mullins will head to Prestbury Park with genuine hopes of riding his first Festival winner, with Champion Hurdle hope Our Conor the star of his quality book of rides.
The winner jumped and travelled with zest throughout the three-mile contest and Mullins appeared ultra-confident rounding the home turn.
He was almost Carberry-esque as he sat motionless until the final fence, before allowing his mount to stride on to a three-and-a-quarter-length victory.
Saoirse Dun filled the runner-up spot, with 11/4 favourite Los Amigos third.
Martin said: "He jumps exceptionally well. We've had him a while and we're starting to get the hang of him now.
"That's his forte - deep ground and plenty of jumping. That's his ideal conditions.
"We'll find something similar for him."
The trainer added that no decision had been taken over running plans for Benefficient, who was "50/50" to run in either Wednesday's BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair Chase a day later.