ON 15th May 2000, at the tender age of 16, Ryan Moore steered Mersey Beat to victory in a hurdle race at Towcester. “I learnt to ride at Grandad’s”, he tells me on his way to ride at Salisbury in relentless pursuit of his fourth flat jockey’s title in five years.
“I originally thought I was going to be a national hunt jockey and modelled myself a bit on AP (McCoy).”
However, within three weeks of that first win, he opened his account on the flat with a win aboard No Extras at Newmarket using a borrowed saddle.
“I was flapping a bit during the race and remember coming back in and telling Dad that I felt all over the place,” he recalls. “Dad said it didn’t matter and at least I knew where the winning post was.”
Moore continues to religiously find that ‘post’ on almost a daily basis, although he cannot recall how many winners he has actually ridden since he broke his duck that day at Newmarket.
“I haven’t a clue… the truth is I’m too busy to count,” he admits. Although, one suspects he probably knows the name of every winner, let alone the overall grand total! Yet, all his success comes as no surprise as he is bred to be a Champion Jockey. He is, after all, the grandson of racehorse trainer Charlie Moore, the son of successful trainer Gary Moore and brother to leading national hunt jockey Jamie Moore.
Refreshingly, he has not forgotten his roots though and is quick to tell me that his family have been the biggest inspiration in his life.
When our conversation turns to his recent Derby success aboard Workforce, he is embarrassed by any sort of praise and is quick to divert my attention to his equine partner. “It was an amazing feeling and he showed extraordinary acceleration,” he says. “He is very good. I’ve been lucky enough to ride some terrific horses, but he has the scope to be the very best of them”. I think the same can now be said of Moore, when you compare him to his weighing room colleagues.
So, what next for a man who hasn’t even reached the age of 30? “The Arc,” he fires back with Workforcesque speed. He has a habit of using one or two words, where plenty of others in his position would use 50. However, his bluntness is certainly more to do with youthful shyness than a confident arrogance. He is driven like no other and you certainly wouldn’t bet against him and Workforce at Longchamp in October.
Interestingly, it is on the subject of the state of British racing where he becomes most animated.
“Something needs to be done about the levels of prize money,” he added. “Too many people are talking about it and nothing seems to be happening. I am doing what I can to help the team at Racing For Change and feel we need to broaden the reach of racing and not just the appeal. In Australia you can bet on racing in pubs. We need to look for different outlets for our sport”.
In the more immediate future, Moore heads to Royal Ascot this afternoon with a host of fancied rides and I couldn’t help but ask him about the ones he is most looking forward to. “I guess Harbinger in the Hardwicke on Saturday would be the pick of them,” he mutters. “He’s working nicely, as is Kingsgate Native who runs in the King’s Stand (today)”.
Ryan Moore is most definitely not Frankie Dettori and never will be. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see him doing a ‘flying dismount’, let alone presenting Top of the Pops! There is something altogether refreshing about him. As a master of his trade, he is the toast of betting shops up and down the country. It shouldn’t matter he doesn’t smile that often, his brilliance leaves plenty of others grinning from ear to ear.
Racing For Change have teamed up with Sandown Park and Champagne Lanson to offer a VIP day on Wednesday 28 July. Places are limited, so to guarantee your £25 ticket, visit www.sandown.co.uk/cityoffer.