Royal Ascot: Moore’s feat puts racing’s legends in the shade

Jockey Ryan Moore after riding his record-breaking ninth winner of the Royal Ascot meeting, Aidan O'Brien's 5-2 favourite Aloft (Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire).
Jockey Ryan Moore after riding his record-breaking ninth winner of the Royal Ascot meeting, Aidan O'Brien's 5-2 favourite Aloft (Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire).
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RYAN MOORE rode into the Royal Ascot history books after a record-breaking success aboard Aloft – his ninth winner at Flat racing’s blue riband meeting.

His hard-fought victory in the concluding Queen’s Vase – Moore’s mount was fortunate to enjoy an unimpeded run in the action-packed closing stages – saw him break a record previously held jointly by Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery, two of the all-time greats of racing.

Even though Piggott (1965) and Eddery (1989) set the record when Royal Ascot was a four-day meeting, Moore eclipsed their feat – his landmark ride came in the final race on day four of the famous fixture.

Widely regarded as the world’s best Flat rider thanks to his exploits at the end of last year that included a Melbourne Cup victory, Moore has now won nine of the 24 races staged at Royal Ascot this week and he has six further chances today to add to his unprecedented tally.

Typically Moore, champion jockey in 2006, 2008 and 2009 before injury and international commitments intervened, played down the scale of his achievement.

“I’m very lucky, I get to ride the best horses and that makes a difference,” noted the ice-cool rider before dashing off to Newmarket where, he had a ride just 90 minutes after Ladbrokes St Leger prospect Aloft had passed the winning post in triumph.

“It was a very messy race, I was slowly away and in a bad position and having to pick my way, he was a bit rusty all the way round. He’s a fair horse this fellow. He’s open to all sorts of improvement, it’s his first run of the year and you wouldn’t know where he could end up.”

However this does not do credit to the camera-shy 31-year-old who rode the first of his 36 – and counting – Royal Ascot winners in 2006 aboard Colony for Sir Michael Stoute. He rides for all the top trainers – and now enjoys a retainer with the Coolmore breeding empire – because he has become the ultimate professional and a tactical genius.

His uncomfortable public persona should not detract from Moore’s magnificence in the saddle; he prefers his riding to do the talking, unlike some of his more extrovert rivals, and he has a mischievous sense of humour away from the cameras. He enjoys, for example, an easygoing rapport with the Queen and rode Her Majesty’s Estimate to a famous win in the 2013 Gold Cup.

This was articulated by Coolmore supremo John Magnier said: “Ryan is a very modest guy, and regardless of what anyone says about him he has a great sense of humour.”

Fellow Coolmore partner Derrick Smith said: “I’ve seen them all, Lester, Mick Kinane, Johnny Murtagh, Frankie Dettori – he’s right up there with all of them.”

Meanwhile the legendary Piggott’s praise was heartfelt. “Ryan Moore is a brilliant jockey, anyone can see that. To win nine races during any week is a fantastic achievement, but to do it at Royal Ascot where the competition is so tough is extremely impressive. I’m sure Ryan will go on to break many more records,” he said.

The ‘Moore the merrier’ show, which has left the bookmakers reeling. overshadowed a landmark day for trainer Charlie Hills who won the inaugural Commonwealth Cup, a newly-created six-furlong sprint for three-year-olds, with Muhaarar.

Like Dutch Connection who won the Jersey Stakes earlier in the week for Hills, the Sheikh Hamdam al Maktoum-owned Muhaarar also came to prominence at the Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival last August and his success will help York’s bid for the historic Gimcrack Stakes to be elevated to Grade One status.

How good is Muhaarar? The question might be answered in next month’s July Cup at Newmarket when the Hills horse takes on equine rivals of all ages, but the trainer believes his new stable star is every bit as good as his ill-fated Group One-winning filly Chriselliam.

“He has got the world at his feet. He’s a pleasure to train and is probably the best horse I’ve ever trained,” said Hills.

Moore’s magic also overshadowed his great rival Richard Hughes, champion jockey for the past three years, who rode a notable double courtesy of Illuminate and Arab Dawn in his final Royal Ascot as a rider before switching to the training ranks.

Meanwhile a thrilling denouement to the Group One Coronation Stakes saw French filly Ervedya pounce late under Christophe Soumillon who, surprisingly, was recording his first ever winner at Royal Ascot; his only previous victory, courtesy of Valixir, came when the meeting was held at York in 2005 due to the Berkshire track’s renovation. Given the Belgian-born rider’s reputation as a consummate horseman, it makes Ryan Moore’s achievements even more worthy of celebration.