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Lyall Cooper pictured with Betway Summer Cup-winning trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren after the running of Jo’urg’s biggest race last year (JC Photos)

David Mollett

Perhaps there isn’t a sport that comes to the rescue of its leading players who are in distress better than horseracing. Time and again, those encountering rough waters are thrown a lifeline.

The latest person needing a lifeboat is channel 240 on-course, presenter Lyall Cooper, who was diagnosed with cancer in June.

Health issues of people involved in the sport are nothing new with funds being raised for Nico Kritsiotis (a liver transplant 12 years ago), Alistair Cohen now happily recovered and, more recently, Cape commentator, Rouvaun Smit, who underwent spinal surgery in March.

To his absolute credit, Nico Kritsiotis, who has worked with Cooper on many occasions at Turffontein and the Vaal, has led the charge in setting up a fund to pay the medical expenses for Cooper.

He said: “We are proud to launch the medical assistance fund and thank Rowan Furman and his team of attorneys for setting up an account to house all the funds donated.”

The account is at Nedbank. Branch code 580015. EFT acc: 50020803119.

This is an important week in racing funds for Cooper as – not for the first time – Joanne Knowles, wife of Cape presenter Grant Knowles, has put her hand up to help and organised a golf day this friday, November 17.

The venue is the Atlantic Beach golf club at Melkbosstrand and the cost of a four-ball is R2600. Further details can be obtained from Joanne on 083-399-6353.

Lyall – a guy with a great sense of humour – will find the fact that golf is coming to his rescue as going full circle as – prior to entering racing – he was a golf pro. Indeed, word has it that when it came to “Trick Shots” he was one of the best on the planet.

On a personal note, I worked many on-course shifts with Lyall and it was obvious from the outset that he had the calm manner and eagerness to make his mark in the sport. He kindly once said: “Every meeting I’m learning from you, Molly.”

These are worrying times for Lyall’s family and his lovely fiancee, Charlene Basilio. However, she will have gained great strength from the fact racing is rallying around the couple in their time of need.