Hills tribute to retired Cochrane

The trainer Barry Hills yesterday led the tributes to Ray Cochrane, who has announced his retirement from race-riding. Cochrane has been forced to quit the saddle as a result of a series of injuries which have left him with a weakened back. Doctors have warned him another fall could leave him disabled. Hills said: "He was an excellent jockey. He started with me and was with me for five years."

The trainer Barry Hills yesterday led the tributes to Ray Cochrane, who has announced his retirement from race-riding. Cochrane has been forced to quit the saddle as a result of a series of injuries which have left him with a weakened back. Doctors have warned him another fall could leave him disabled. Hills said: "He was an excellent jockey. He started with me and was with me for five years."

Cochrane, 43, suffered a neck injury in a light aircraft crash in Newmarket in June - he was nominated for a bravery award for his actions in saving fellow passenger Frankie Dettori and attempting to rescue pilot Patrick Mackey, who died.

Cochrane enjoyed many highlights in a career dating back to his first success on Roman Way at Windsor in August, 1974. His first major Flat victories came in the 1984 July Cup and Sussex Stakes on Chief Singer. His first Classic winner came in the 1,000 Guineas on Midway Lady two years later. He followed up in the Oaks on the same filly. Offered a retainer by Luca Cumani in 1987, Cochrane won the Derby on Kahyasi for the Italian in 1988. He joined Guy Harwood as stable jockey in 1990 and won the July Cup on Polish Patriot for the Pulborough trainer. His most recent big-race wins include the 1998 Caulfield Cup in Australia on Taufan's Melody and last season's French 1,000 Guineas on Valentine Waltz.

Cochrane was arrested in January, 1999 in connection with an investigation into doping and race-fixing but was cleared of any involvement in the case two months later.

In the aftermath of Monday's storms several fixtures remain in doubt. Inspections are planned for tomorrow's meetings at Towcester (7.30am today) and Windsor (9.00am today) as well as for Hexham (8.00am tomorrow) on Friday and Sandown (noon tomorrow) on Saturday. Today's meeting at Newton Abbot was called off yesterday morning.

Bellator won the Haldon Gold Cup Chase under Norman Williamson at Exeter yesterday. Venetia Williams' charge was backed from 3-1 to 7-4 and responded in the gamest fashion to Williamson's urgings to jump ahead of long-time leader Upgrade three out and score by a length and a half. Williams said: "He's in the Thomas Pink Gold Cup at Cheltenham a week on Saturday but that's over two miles and five furlongs and it could come a bit quickly. The other option we have is the First National Bank Chase at Ascot a week later."

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