Bryan Cooper has been formally appointed as retained rider for leading owners Gigginstown House Stud.

Speculation began on New Year's Eve that then-retained and champion jockey Davy Russell would no longer be the number one for Michael O'Leary's formidable Gigginstown squad, which was later confirmed by both parties.

Cooper, who has already ridden a number of big-race winners for the team, soon emerged as the hot favourite for one of the biggest jobs in the sport, and O'Leary's brother and Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O'Leary said on Friday afternoon: "I can confirm that Bryan Cooper will be our number one retainer.

"He's a very good rider and I hope it will be the start of a long and happy association."

There has been speculation that Ruby Walsh may now have first pick on the Gigginstown-owned horses in the care of champion trainer Willie Mullins, but O'Leary said: "That is not the case. Bryan will be the number one retainer for all our horses."

O'Leary also revealed Russell would continue to ride for Gigginstown.

"Davy will continue to ride plenty for us. There has been no falling out of any kind," he said.

Cooper said: "It's a great honour to have been asked. I've had a good bit of success for the team over the last two or three years and it's great to get the call-up.

"I'm just looking forward to getting started and am very honoured" - Bryan Cooper

"It's a great team, with a great team of horses. Hopefully we can get off to a good start and keep the ball rolling.

"I could sit here all day going through all the good horses I'm looking forward to riding. I'm just looking forward to getting started and am very honoured."

Cooper has sympathy for Russell, with no doubt another big job is just around the corner.

He said: "That's the game we're in. Davy is a great man and a great rider and I'm sure he'll bounce back. I'm sure someone will be snapping him up very quickly."

The young rider also confirmed his intention to continue to ride for long-term boss Dessie Hughes, who trains a number of horses for Gigginstown.

Cooper said: "I'll continue to ride out for Dessie and I'll ride for him as much as I can.

"He has been very good to me for the last four years and I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for him. I owe him a lot."