Cooper decision may be vital to Our Conor’s Champion Hurdle chances
Our Conor’s 15-length demolition of the Triumph Hurdle has seen him installed as joint favourite for the 2014 Champion Hurdle at 5/1, but his chances could be hindered if regular pilot Bryan Cooper loses the ride.
Cooper is that highly rated in Ireland that many are already calling him the next Ruby Walsh and Our Conor was one of three winners he experienced at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.
However, Our Conor has since been bought from the Man About Town Syndicate by Barry Connell, who has already purchased big Bumper prospect Golantilla this season for $375,000.
Danny Mullins is the retained jockey for horses owned by Connell and so there is a strong possibility that he will take over duties from Cooper.
Changing a winning combination is a dangerous strategy, as Luca Cumani discovered with Presvis, the highest earning British-trained horse of all time.
Kieren Fallon replaced Ryan Moore for three races in the 2009/10 season and the horse failed to win once, including a defeat in the Hong Kong Cup and then in handicap company.
Moore then returned to the saddle and the successful partnership resumed, which included a Group One victory in Meydan.
Sometimes, horse and jockey just strike up a perfect relationship and this could prove to be the case between Our Conor and Cooper.
The odds are already largely stacked against Our Conor winning the 2014 Champion Hurdle because of his age.
Katchit is the only five-year-old to win the Champion Hurdle in the last 25 years, although Afsoun, Punjabi, Celestial Halo and Binocular have all placed for this age group since 2007.
This does suggest that Our Conor may find at least one too good in 2014, but given another year’s growth, his best chance of Champion Hurdle success may come in 2015.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.