Leopardstown double gives Bryan Cooper hope of Cheltenham glory

• Road To Riches cut for Gold Cup after Lexus Chase victory
• Lieutenant Colonel win makes him World Hurdle contender

Bryan Cooper’s stop-start climb towards the summit of Irish jump racing scaled a new crest on Sunday when he completed a Grade One double on Road To Riches and Lieutenant Colonel on the most prestigious card of the four-day Christmas meeting here. Both of his winners are now contenders for feature events at the Cheltenham Festival in March, when Cooper will expect to have a realistic chance in many of the week’s biggest races.

Cooper left last season’s Cotswolds festival in an ambulance, with his right leg badly broken after a fall on the second of the four days, and did not return to race-riding until October. By then, he had been the retained rider for Michael O’Leary’s powerful Gigginstown Stud operation for nearly 10 months, but available to ride horses for just the first 10 weeks.

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