Former jockey Bryan Cooper, who was number one jockey to Meath trainer Gordon Elliott before announcing his retirement in March last year aged just 30., has compared Meath horse trainer to legendary Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.
In an interview with DAZN SPORT Cooper discusses his relationship with Elliott, what he was like as a trainer, how he is more than willing to have a pint away from the track, and a lot more!
Among the more interesting things he had to say were, ‘ Gordon was very determined and driven. What he is doing now is incredible, I can see his willpower to win and become champion trainer, his determination, it’s incredible. The thrill he gets winning the big races, you see it in his face and it is all down to the work at home and the team he has built around him, it is phenomenal.
‘ That is something he has built from scratch and has happened in a short space of time compared to other trainers. He was a great man to ride for, his horses were always incredibly well schooled and he didn’t tie you down to structures too much. Though he would let you know when you did wrong and is not afraid to let you know on the track that day either. That’s Gordon, he does get a little bit hot-headed but a great guider as well. He brings on young jockeys now, like Jack Kennedy, Jordan Gainford, Sam Ewing, Danny Gilligan – all these young lads.
‘ I listened to something he said that Sir Alex Ferguson had commented on that you need good young lads in your yard and that’s what he is doing, just like Sir Alex Ferguson did at Manchester United, he had those young lads in the Class Of 92 and then he guided them throughout their careers and I think that is what Gordon is doing now.’
While Ferguson was known to like a drop of fine claret Cooper reveals Elliot has simpler tastes.
‘ You can go for a pint with him and he is great craic. He’s only 40 as well. I always remember with him that if we had a big winner over the weekend, like a Grade 1, then they would have a do for the staff on the Monday evening, they’d go to the pub after a half day and have a few drinks in the evening with a free bar. He looks after the staff really well, I was very lucky to be a part of that team for a while and it is fantastic to see him doing well.
‘I didn’t think he had the firepower this year but he is putting it up to Willie Mullins a lot more than I expected him to. I knew he had bought a lot of horses but they were young horses.’
The full interview is here; https://www.daznbet.com/arena-uk/horse-racing/bryan-cooper-interview/