Bernie Cooper – The Juggler and Lover of Racing and Life
The Juggler and Lover of Racing and Life
Bernadette Cooper leads a less than ordinary life. She’s bright and bubbly and full of cheek. A fabulous face of thoroughbred racing in Queensland, the energetic blonde with skip in her step and humour in her heart has become a popular presenter, on the Sky Racing television screen.
Following a highly successful 15-year race riding career including riding over 650 winners from Sydney to Brisbane, Melbourne and Macau, she jumped out of the saddle to land on her feet. In 2010 she was snapped up by Sky Channel, as it was named back then, and her journalism career took off. She began as a Brisbane-based tipster on Sky Channel TV and has since powered on to appear in many modes. Most prominent on the pony interviewing jockeys pre and post race on major Group 1 race days in Sydney and Brisbane and on days of unique attraction like the Darwin Cup and the Magic Millions at Pinjarra in Western Australia. Not only does she anchor Brisbane and Ipswich race days, commenting live from the mounting yard amongst the participants and horse flesh, she also hosts her own very entertaining Friday night show. Weekend with Bernie, which screens in the winter months and she invites special guests, or racing identities on screen to create a behind the scenes story of their very own. She’s proudly hosted Olympic swimming gold medalist backstroke, Emily Seebohm and light weight boxer, Jeff Horn in his lead up to his world title winning fight against Many Pacquiao. But most memorable of all, was the surfing episode, laughs Bernie. “I took David van Dyke, Damien Brown, Stuart Kendrick and Larry Cassidy to surfing lessons at Caloundra on the north coast for the show. David refused to get out of the water until he could get up on the board. It was hilarious and just so much fun.” she said. But there is more to our beloved Bernie than what we see on Television. She is a lady of sheer grit, determination and devotion, with a big heart and a big role, both on and off the screen. A loving mother and down to earth home juggler, she lives in Brisbane with her partner Michael Hood and their 11-year-old daughter, Stella. Bernie manages her time to dedicate to both. Stella, light in her seat, she rides like her mum, but light on her feet, she dances with aplomb. A blossoming Ballerina, Stella is determined to dance. And dance she does, nearly every day of a week to the tune of Bernie’s best juggling act. Bernie’s week revolves around performances, in the dance studio for Stella, on the screen for herself and on the home front for Michael as a committed carer. Sadly, Michael suffers with a debilitating disease, Spino Cerebella Ataxia, which is similar to a slow form of Motor Neuron Disease. A former Sydney horse trainer, Bernie’s loving partner of 16 years has been a backbone to Bernie, with his finger on the pulse of form and racing ratings of thoroughbreds throughout Australia. When asked how she crams in the duties of her days, she simply laughs out loud and as a lover of life, in her slaphappy way she cheekily quips, “I can do anything and everything, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Bernie really can adapt to anything and anyone. It’s never more obvious than in her racing role, while riding on horseback she fires questions off the cuff to the winning jockeys after they have won a big race. “Now that’s a juggling act” Bernie smiled.
“I have to ride the pony, hang onto the microphone, keep my earpiece in, sidle up with the bouncing jockey on their horse and think quickly on my saddle! And… each jockey has a different persona and emotion after a race. I have to read the play and know what to ask and how hard to push”. She explained. “Hey, it’s not easy for the jockey either, on top of a feisty beast, having to be grilled by me in front of hundreds of thousands via TV”, she added with a grin. Bernie is as happy go lucky as you’ll ever see, and her personality sparkles naturally on TV. She is an outstanding advocate for racing and ambassador for all females, not only in the sport but also in life. She performs many and varied roles without beating the gender drum. She takes every stride with style and a smile, and in her own words “I love what I do and feel so privileged to be given a second opportunity for a career in racing. Despite the challenges of being a carer, a mother and a full time employee, I’m just doing every day, what millions of others do.”
Michelle with Bernadette Cooper
Bernie as a Sky Racing ambassador; networker (with Rachel Laing and Jenny Mcalpine); and MC.