2014 could be remembered for the World Cup, Ryder Cup or for the countless thrills of the Champions League but racing fans will always remember 2014 as they year when Ryan Moore dominated flat racing with 19 Group race wins across four different continents, writes Stephen Loftus.
The soft spoken stable jockey to Sir Michael Stoute rode with effortless precision and finesse and left racegoers and fans bewildered with a number of other-worldly rides when the spotlight was at its brightest. Whether it was patiently stalking the front-runners or expertly taking the race from the front, Moore rode with the same vigour on a Friday night in Wolverhampton as he did during the Melbourne Cup worth over £2 million in prize money.
Moore’s globetrotting exploits were highlighted in the months of October and November when he began in Longchamp winning the Prix Marcel Boussac and the Prix du Cadran on Found and High Jinx respectively. It was then on to Canada where Stoute’s Hillstar gave an inspired performance to take the Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine.
Only six days later, the aptly named Adelaide gave Aidan O’Brien and Moore a terrific success in the Cox Plate at Flemington. After being slow out of the stalls, Moore opted to sit in rear until the back straight when the three-year old began to stretch his legs and chew up the lost ground.Turning into the straight, Moore was posted six wide on the track but managed to will the horse over the line in a display fit for any highlight reel.
Throughout his incredible career, the three times champion jockey had still never managed to win the race that stops a nation; the Melbourne Cup. In 2014, Ryan Moore was given the chance to ride the German charge, Protectionist. The fiercely competitive handicap was turned into a procession as the racing world realised they were witnessing a true great. There was no fanatical celebrations from the jockey though, instead just a wry smile, underlining his gentle nature.
“Sometimes things will really work out for you, other days they won’t” – Ryan Moore on Melbourne Cup win.
To cap off his around the world adventure, Moore made the trek to Japan to win the Hai Nasai Stakes on Satono Crown, a fine way to finish an exciting two months for the man who had conceded the jockeys championship to Richard Hughes so that he could honour his International commitments. Besides, he will have plenty more opportunities to capture a fourth crown.
On the domestic scene, Moore balanced his duties with Sir Michael Stoute and Aidan O’Brien perfectly but also combined with Kevin Ryan and the Grey Gatsby to take down the Derby winner Australia with an expertly timed ride at Leopardstown in the QIPCO Champion Stakes. His ability to secure outside rides is a credit to both his riding ability and humility.
Moore’s finest hour in Britain came when he partnered Tapestry in the Yorkshire Oaks but on paper the race looked an easy task for the previously unbeaten Taghrooda, winner of the Oaks at Epsom just two months previously and the apple of John Gosden’s eye. She was sent off at 1/5 while Tapestry was relatively unfancied.
Like the ride on Adelaide, Moore settled Tapestry in rear but was niggling away three furlongs out as Taghrooda eased to the front. Moore switched Tapestry to the outside as he wound the filly up for one last crack at the Oaks heroine. What transpired next was majestic as Tapestry found a new lease of life to get her head in front in the shadows of the winning post.
Two power packed rides on Aktabantay and Integral gave more credence to the argument that Moore is the greatest jockey of his generation, an accolade he truly deserves. His year’s achievements were recognised at the Lester Awards as he was named Flat jockey of the year but when you are compared to Lester Piggott, it really should be his award every year.
The 31-year old can now be recognised akin to Ronnie O’ Sullivan, Phil Taylor and Henry Shefflin as the true giant of his sport but only after years of hard work at his craft. His genius knows no bounds and after an unbelievable 2014, is there any way he can add to his achievements in 2015? His place in racing immortality is secured but for racing fans, we hope he can continue his spectacular ways.
Featured image by By Chris Phutully via Wikimedia Commons