Frankie Dettori hails man who saved his life as Ray Cochrane retires
Frankie Dettori will always be grateful to the 20-year association he enjoyed with Ray Cochrane after the Classic-winning rider brought the curtain down on his role as agent to the brilliant Italian.
Cochrane – who won the Derby in 1988 aboard Kahyasi – retired from the saddle in 2000 due to back problems, five months after being involved in a light aircraft crash that claimed the life of pilot Patrick Mackey and led to Cochrane receiving the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for pulling Dettori from the wreckage.
Cochrane then switched to become Dettori’s agent, but announced at the weekend he would be retiring from the role.
Dettori told Racing TV’s Luck on Sunday programme: “I was at Luca’s (Cumani) when Ray was first jockey. I was an apprentice and he was a great teacher and always tried to give me opportunities. He was a great man to be around and very professional.
“He battled with his weight most of his career and then obviously never mind being a friend, he saved my life. He was able to drag me off the plane and away to safety, then the plane exploded. Not only has he been a great friend, I owe my life to him.
“I asked him to become my agent and we had amazing success. I really loved to work for him. I think in 20 years, we probably had just one or two arguments, so that’s pretty good – a lot less than I have with my wife!
“We had a chat and he thought now was the time he wanted to spend some time for himself and do the things that he wanted to do. I accepted his decision, we had no fall-outs and are still good friends and I wish him all the best.
“I will miss him a lot, of course. He has been part of my life so for long. It was hard, but I have to accept his decision.”
Dettori rides mainly for John Gosden and confirmed he intends to look after his own bookings for the rest of his time in the saddle rather than engage another agent.
He is also relishing the planned resumption of racing in Britain on 1 June - and expecting a busy time of things, with the Guineas meeting at Newmarket planned for the opening weekend.
He said: “It’s going to be fast and furious and very concentrated. If everything goes to plan at least we’ll be able to catch up and by the time we get to July and August we’ll be back to normal.
“It goes without saying to save the Classics is important for everything, the breeding, the horses, everything. I think the proposed plan is unbelievable and fingers crossed we’ll be able to do it. I’m close to my top fitness and I think after a few rides under my belt it will be business as usual.”
He added: “John’s horses look extremely well at the moment. I see the big girl (Enable) often in a morning – John is keeping me well away from her at the moment, but she looks well. She looks magnificent.
“Sometimes you are afraid when the horses are getting older that they may lose their racing brain, but she seems very alert and struts around the place like she owns it. She’s very fresh and alert and that’s always a good sign.
“The main aim is to get her to the first Sunday in October (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe) in the best shape we can get her to try to do something no horse has ever done in the history of the Arc (win three times).
“I think the racing world is waiting for that and fingers crossed we can look after her and get her there and have another crack (at winning for the third time).
“I’ve sat on Stradivarius and he will be one of the first to come out as soon as we start. We’ve got some very nice three-year-olds, a lot of unknown quantities with lots of potential, so we are all ready to go.”
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