Mick Fitzgerald: Why Irish and UK racing are completely different

Mick explains racing tempo and also discusses Bryan Cooper

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Mick Fitzgerald has revealed that the key difference between racing in Ireland and the UK is tempo.

Paddy Power’s horse racing ambassador, who rode over 1,300 winners before pursuing a successful media career, has explained how Irish races are often run at a much slower pace that gradually builds – compared to UK events that a run at a gallop from the off.

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Speaking on the latest episode of our twice-weekly From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Mick also addressed Bryan Cooper chances of regaining his top form this season.

The 28-year-old jockey has won the Triumph Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup already in his career but has been plagued by injuries and struggled for rides since he was dropped by Gigginstown in 2017.

Irish tempo

Racing in the UK and racing in Ireland is a completely different tempo of race.

There are always two or three lads that want to force the pace in a lot of the UK races, as opposed to Ireland. In Ireland, you’re struggling to find someone to make the running.

Whereas in the UK, you’re struggling to find someone to sit off the pace with a little bit. Its very much ‘jump out, flat out’.

Mick Fitzgerald and See Moe Business clear the last fence at Wetherby before landing The Peterhouse Group Charlie Hall Steeple Chase, October 28, 2000

I won the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby a few times, and you needed a fit horse going into that because it was pretty taxing on them.

In the Irish races, the tempo tends to build and if you look at the sectionals they are often going faster at the business end of the race than they would be in the UK. That’s fairly general.

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Bryan Cooper comeback

Bryan Cooper has a fantastic opportunity this season, potentially with Gordon Elliott on the back of other injuries to stable jockeys. He is also associated with Paul Nolan so he will have a few chances.

Robbie Power took the plunge and moved over to the UK to ride for Colin Tizzard, and Colin Tizzard’s horses are not running like they should be. Robbie Power might be thinking ‘I might have been better just hanging on and riding in Ireland’.

But for someone like Bryan Cooper, working his way back to top form, there is nothing like riding good horses to help your confidence. He gave Latest Exhibition a great ride at Cheltenham, which just wasn’t quite good enough.

This season is a perfect opportunity for him.

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