Ryan Moore – he’s always miserable, right? Never says much when he’s interviewed on TV, never smiles – even when he’s just landed a Classic – always looks like he’d rather be somewhere else, preferably around horses, not people. We all know Ryan Moore. Or do we?
Those who have witnessed the outstanding jockey of his generation at work might not be too familiar with the proud father pictured on this month’s cover, someone who looks happy and relaxed in front of the camera, without a horse in sight. Frankly, it’s not a side of his character we’re used to seeing.
On the racecourse, Moore’s persona is that of an uncompromising and committed sportsman, one who has little time for trivialities and questions about how the ground is riding or what he thinks of his next mount’s chances. As a consequence he has earned a reputation as being a somewhat difficult interviewee, who can often appear uncooperative in front of the media.
On the racecourse, Moore’s persona is that of an uncompromising and committed sportsman, one who has little time for trivialities
Yet is this representative of the real personality hidden beneath the cap and goggles? Almost certainly not, is the answer, in the same way that those colleagues who are always smiling and joking for an audience might not be all sweetness and light when they’re off duty.
Away from the track, Moore is an engaging and intelligent subject with plenty of forthright views, as readers of this month’s exclusive and revealing interview will discover.
Moore has won three jockeys’ championships and it would have been more but for a series of injuries. He’s captured the Derby, the Arc and big races all over the world; one of the few domestic Group Ones yet to fall his way is the 2,000 Guineas, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that he’d be desperate for a Rowley Mile triumph on May 4. Think again.
“Everyone makes a big deal about the Classics, much bigger than I think they deserve,” Moore tells Julian Muscat.
“Races like the Eclipse, King George, Juddmonte and Champion Stakes are more important. That’s my opinion. To me, riding a Classic winner doesn’t measure up to riding the winner of one of those races.
“The 2,000 Guineas is massively important from a breeding point of view. I’d like to win it, obviously, but I’d prefer to win others first.”
One (former) jockey who has never had a problem with talking on telly is John Francome, whose decision to step down from Channel 4 Racing was one of the most disappointing aspects of Highflyer Productions losing the contract to IMG last year.
The sound of Francome and Jim McGrath working through the runners on a Saturday – their excellent commentaries frequently interrupted by bouts of laugher – was one of the most enjoyable aspects of 4’s racing coverage.
They were the engine room of the show, the midfield duo that kept the team ticking over, with Francome’s wayward talent, capable of either the sublime or the ridiculous, playing off the ultra-consistent McGrath. The two complemented each other perfectly and although I cannot criticise any of the new personnel, you can’t help but feel that something is now missing.
As for Francome, surely he must be struggling without the buzz of working on live television?
“I haven’t missed anything,” he explains to Tim Richards. “I never missed riding when I packed up and if you’ve got loads to do I don’t think you miss things.
“I sat in the armchair [watching the Grand National] thinking how nice it was being entertained. Stepping down from the TV work has not made me feel left out in any way.”