Bernie Cooper – The Jug­gler and Lover of Rac­ing and Life

The Jug­gler and Lover of Rac­ing and Life

Ladies in Racing - - Contents - Story by Jenny Mcalpine • Im­ages sup­plied by Sky Rac­ing

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.

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