AP McCoy has done racing an enormous service, while putting himself through quite unbelievable perils and privation. But there is now a huge favour he can grant the game, without need for any risk or self-denial — he can get Ryan Moore to talk.
The 39-year-old AP will now give the most lucid of interviews about the passion that still drives him, 4,000 winners and countless terrible falls into his 20-season career. But 30-year-old Ryan, too, often remains tight-lipped and even surly, despite an ever improving excellence — most recently demonstrated by his victory on Gentildonna in the Japan Cup in Tokyo.
It was his 9th major race in 6 different countries this year and makes the name of his 2013 Epsom Derby winner extremely apt. It was Ruler Of The World.
Ryan Moore stands unquestionably as one of the greatest riders on the globe and operates at the very peak of his powers. He is skilful, wise, adaptive and infinitely determined and has been champion jockey 3 times in Britain.
In last season’s official Flat season, his friend and mentor Richard Hughes outscored him 159-136 in winners ridden. But Moore’s £4.2m prize-money haul topped Hughes by £300,000 — and anyway, Richard was born and raised in Co Kildare. Ryan is a Brighton boy. He is a glittering jewel in racing’s crown. But his attitude is in danger of dulling it.
For while he will make an effort for major interviews in press or TV — and is more than happy to open up for good money in his ghosted Betfair column — he has also won a reputation for dismissing interviewers or even walking off in the middle of lesser situations.
This has led to exasperation and even hostility from the racing press and is something that needs addressing.
What on earth is the point of the worthies in the promotional arm of Great British racing trumpeting its goods, if one of its greatest assets has a running feud with the media?
Great racing pedigree
In private, he is polite, intelligent, amusing and is a much-loved part of the Moore racing clan. Others in this great racing family are openly engaging as is his splendid grandfather, Charlie Moore, who besides specialising in winning “sellers” at Brighton, used to have a coal round, a second-hand car garage and sang at the end of the pier on Saturday nights.
John Inverdale is one of the great sports broadcasters of the present, era as well as a long-standing fan of the galloping game. “Can you name,” he once asked me, “a more miserable champion in any sport than Ryan Moore?”
When Ryan was younger, apologists like me could point not only to a natural shyness, but to a desperate wish to avoid overcelebrating the success that meant he earned more in a month than his father Gary would have done in his whole journeyman jump jock’s career. But such excuses no longer wash.
Ryan, a devoted father of 2, is somebody who is bright enough to give brief courtesies with the media without getting his hackles up. Others, in particular Richard Hughes, have tried to get him to loosen up, without any obvious success.
So let’s call for AP. Time was when the great McCoy was a prickly customer himself, particularly after riding a loser. But the media both within and without the game soon came to appreciate the self-deprecating diversions with which Britain’s most remarkable sportsman deflects the adulation that is showered upon him.
As a teenager, Ryan looked on in awe at the single-minded professionalism with which McCoy came and schooled father Gary Moore’s hurdlers. At 30, he should reflect in the manner with which his hero now handles a far greater media burden than his own. He pursues a lifestyle even more demanding and much more dangerous than the role in which his own skills now earn a fortune.
If he doesn’t, he will be doing both himself and his profession a disservice and gives the impression that the game only cares about itself. Neither racing nor Ryan deserves that.
This column was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (28 November, 2013 edition)