Cochrane times two late runs perfectly


RAY COCHRANE gave the Kempton crowd just about all the excitement they could take yesterday when producing two last gasp finishes on Hazard a Guess and Hard to Figure, to record a 70 to 1 plus double.

In the day's feature, the £20,000 Westminster Taxi Insurance Rosebery Handicap, any of 10 horses could have won it a furlong out, but, at the post, Cochrane had popped Hazard a Guess through a gap to beat Special Dawn by three quarters of a length.

The winner's diminutive trainer Dandy Nichols wrapped himself in the unsaddling cloth of the winner as he celebrated with a broad smile and said "Ray gave him a great ride though I certainly didn't ask him to leave it that late!"

Thirsk based Nichols, having his first winner at Kempton admitted. "Hazard a Guess was not unfancied today, let me put it that way. He had been working really well recently."

One man not on hand to celebrate the six year old's success was his owner Ian Blakey who had only bought the horse out of the Lynda Ramsden's stable a couple of months ago.

Nichols explained. "The owner rang me this morning and said he had had one two many glasses of red wine last night. He's sitting in front of the television now."

Hazard a Guess may well be sent to consolidate his victory at Beverley on Friday, said Nichols. "He'll run there if I have my way. That's what racehorses are there for."

Earlier Cochrane's challenge on Hard to Figure in the earlier Quail Condition Stakes had been equally skillfully delivered. A furlong out, the race had looked to rest between The Puzzler, on wpm Willie Carson still looked quite comfortable, and Pat Eddery's mount Easy Dollar.

However, no sooner had Eddery forced Easy Dollar's head in front than Hard to Figure surged between the two horses to beat Easy Dollar by a head, with The Puzzler one and a half lengths back in third.

At 10, Hard to Figure was over twice the age of any of his rivals but as his trainer Ron Hodges said. "He's a bit of a freak and, for example, his full brother is completely useless. I just wish I had a few more Hard to Figures in my yard."

And as the Somerton based trainer explained. "What makes this horse even more extraordinary is that he had to go through an operation to remove some fungus on his brain last year. Even that doesn't seem to have done him any harm at all."