Thirty years on and Kahyasi glory is still special for Ray Cochrane

‘The Derby win is well and truly up there’

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When it comes to making the right calls, there are few that will have given Ray Cochrane greater satisfaction than the one to partner Kahyasi in the 1988 Epsom Derby.

Faced with the choice of riding the son of Ile De Bourbon or Luca Cumani-trained stablemate Kefaah, the now-retired rider selected the former in a decision that would give him arguably the greatest victory of his career.

Having made a winning debut at Newmarket on his only start at two, the Aga Khan-owned colt carried an unbeaten record going into his date with destiny, winning a conditions race at Sandown and the Lingfield Derby Trial.

Cochrane said: “We thought he could be a Derby prospect if he progressed, which he did through the winter.

“We went to Epsom thinking we had a cracking squeak, but it is all very well thinking you have a cracking squeak – you need things to go right as the margins are very short.

“I had the choice of riding him or Kefaah, who had finished second in the Dante. He was a bit highly strung and he could worry himself out of things and get on edge beforehand.

“Kahyasi was the complete opposite as he never woke up until 2.30 in the afternoon and the first thing he thought about was when was he going to eat!

“One of the main reasons why I went for Kahyasi was because of how he would handle the preliminaries and all what was going on around.”

Early fears he had chosen the wrong Cumani-trained representative were soon dispelled.

Cochrane, 60, said: “We were both drawn quite well in the middle, but as the gates opened Kahyasi was slowly away and I had to give him a dig in the ribs as I was a bit further back than I wanted to be.

“I saw John Reid sitting about fifth on Kefaah hard on the bridle and the first thing you think is ‘I’m on the wrong one’.

“Coming down the hill I gave him a couple of kicks in the ribs, but then coming down Tattenham Corner I was in a lovely spot and I was still travelling well.

“I started to move up on the outside, then I hit the front inside the furlong pole before going away to win. He was such a genuine little horse that was very honest and straightforward.”

For Cochrane it was not until his riding gear and silks were packed away that the enormity of the moment hit home.

He said: “I got to meet the Queen afterwards, but it was all a bit of blur, really. My wife and I choppered in with Richard and Michael Hills, as getting to Epsom on Derby Day driving is a nightmare.

“I wasn’t riding in the last couple of races and we couldn’t leave until after the last.

“I went up to the top of the hill by the seven-furlong point and I watched the lads come down the hill, in I think what was mile-and-a-half handicap, and it was then that I thought ‘hang on a minute you’ve won the Derby’.

“Not somebody else, or someone from abroad – I’ve won it. I’ve won the greatest race in the world. I didn’t mess it up or make a pig’s ear of it.

“I had success in the Oaks before two years earlier with Midway Lady, who also won the 1000 Guineas. I’ve ridden a lot of good horses, like Chief Singer and Selkirk, and I won the Caulfield Cup, which was a great day, but the Derby win is well and truly up there. ”

As regards this year’s race, Cochrane feels Hazapour, nephew to 2016 winner Harzand, and the mount of Frankie Dettori, to whom he is the long-standing agent, is the horse that could take all the beating.

He said: “I like Dermot Weld’s horse that won in Ireland and he is another Aga Khan horse.

“He was just in second or third gear at Leopardstown and he picked the O’Brien horses up and won. He turned up the straight and he looked laid-back.”

Thirty years on and Kahyasi glory is still special for Ray Cochrane
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