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George Moore tribute by Andrew Beattie ("Carbine")

Horse racing aficionados in Hong Kong and around the world will be saddened to hear that the former Hong Kong leading horse trainer of the 1970s and 1980s, George Moore, aged 84, is very ill in a Sydney nursing home. He is understood to be in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Moore, an inaugural inductee into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, was not only a great trainer but a champion jockey too, when the Mackay born lad began riding in Brisbane in 1939, becoming champion apprentice and then champion jockey by 1943.

His first city (Brisbane) win was on Overdraft in 1940 and the first of Moore''s many feature wins was the Doomben 10,000 on Expressman the same year.

Moore was ruled unfit for army service thus missing World War II and had his indentures transferred from Jim Shean to Peter Riddle at Randwick, winning the Breeders Plate on Victory Lad and the 1943-44 Sydney apprentice''s premiership.

He was top hoop in Sydney 10 times between 1957 and 1969, winning 2 Golden Slippers at Rosehill on Baguette in 1970 and Fairy Walk for TJ Smith, and the first Slipper seen by the writer in 1971.

He also rode the winners of 5 AJC Derbies including Tulloch in 1957, 3 Doncasters, his ride on 1966 winner Citius considered quite extraordinary, 2 Epsom Handicaps and 3 Sydney Cups, the first of his innumerable Sydney feature wins being aboard Cordable in the 1946 Sydney Cup. All of these wins were at Randwick, where racing re-commenced today after 3 months of no racing in Sydney due to Equine Influenza. In 1992, the Queen granted the course the right to become Royal Ranwick but it was George who was King for the day back in 1948 when he piloted Diver to victory in the Doncaster Handicap over 1 mile, in front of a record crowd of over 93,000 patrons.

Moore’s success came with the rise of champion trainer Tommy (TJ) Smith who he met on a train trip from Wagga to Melbourne. Smith famously told jockey George Moore that one day soon he''d train the Derby winner and Moore would ride it, and he made good his boast when Moore rode 100-1 chance, and maiden too, Playboy, to win the 1949 AJC Derby.

His other AJC Derby winners were Tulloch (1957), a small colt but big on heart, who bolted away to win easily by six lengths and took two seconds off the race record, previously held by the mighty Phar Lap. Summer Prince (1962), Summer Fiesta (1963) and the Syd Brown trained Classic Mission (1971) were his other Derby winners.

Moore and Smith had first combined in 1946, to win the Rosehill Railway Handicap on Bragger, which was Smith’s first horse, and so began the greatest partnership known in Australian racing.
Moore rode the mighty Tulloch, trained by Smith, in 19 of that champion’s 36 wins, and fortunately for him, he didn’t ride the horse in his only unplaced run, 6th in the Melbourne Cup.

In Melbourne he won 2 Cox Plates with Redcraze in 1957 and Rajah Sahib in 1968 and 2 Victoria Derbies, but sadly never a Melbourne or Caulfield Cup, a Caulfield Cup win denied him in 1957 when he couldn’t make Tulloch’s weight, whilst in Brisbane he won 3 Stradbroke Handicaps, 5 Doomben 10,000s and 3 Doomben Cups.

Overseas he rode for top English trainer Noel Murless and won the 1967 English Derby at Epsom on Royal Palace as well as the English 1000 Guineas on Fleet in 1967, 2000 Guineas twice, at the historic Newmarket course, in 1959 on Prince Aly Khan’s Taboun and Royal Palace in 1967, the 1968 Coronation Cup on Royal Palace, 1967 King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Busted, a wonderful year for Murless, and the 1960 Ascot Gold Cup on Sheshoon, also for Alec Head and Prince Aly Khan.

In France he rode the English bred St Crespin, a half-brother to English Derby and St. Leger winner Tulyar, again for Alec Head, to win the 1959 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe as well as riding the winner of the French Derby, the Prix du Jockey Club, on Fidalgo, that same year. It was in this period that he also rode a winner for Her Majesty, the Queen.

Riding overseas, he even won a major stakes race in USA, the 1950 San Diego Stakes with his final overseas winner being in Ireland in 1970.

In 1969, Moore rode 15 winners from 29 races at the Autumn Carnival in Sydney. He was also the first jockey to be inducted into the Australian Sports Hall Of Fame.

George Moore retired from racing in 1971, going out a winner in his final race on the controversial colt Classic Mission in the Victoria Derby and taking his tally of Group One wins to 119, an Australian record. Older readers may recall that horse’s age being in question as he had the teeth of an older horse, however a careful check of his identity confirmed him a 3 year old, thus eligible to run in the AJC Derby, which he duly won with G Moore aboard.

In a riding career that spanned 34 years, G Moore rode 2,278 wins, including 312 metropolitan stakes wins.

He then moved to France to train, before settling in Hong Kong where he was a leading trainer 11 times until he finally retired in 1985 to the Gold Coast in Queensland where he trained a few horses in the 90s and lived with wife Iris before returning to Sydney in 2003 for health reasons and to be near family.

In winning the Hong Kong training premiership 11 times, he set the record of 87 wins in 1979-80 which was only equalled in 2005 by Tony Cruz, of Silent Witness fame.

He has been immortalized by The George Moore Medal, which since 1998, is presented annually in Sydney to that city’s outstanding jockey of the year, with current holder Darren Beadman riding plenty of winners in Hong Kong, and as at today, December 1st, placed 4th in the premiership behind Douglas Whyte. George is also a member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Son Gary, a former top jockey in France and Hong Kong, where trainer George helped him win the jockey’s premiership 7 times, currently trains racehorses in Macau where he was leading trainer 3 years ago.

His other son John, has been champion trainer in Hong Kong 5 times and trains top horse Viva Pataca, top weight, though didn’t start due to EI scare, for the 2007 Melbourne Cup just run.

George, old ‘Cotton-Fingers’ himself, still strong of heart since his riding days, has had two bypasses and has suffered a mild stroke, but unfortunately for us, who have watched him perform his magic on racetracks around the world, and for his family and many friends, George, alas, will soon be a wonderful memory and no doubt sure to be riding plenty of winners at that great celestial racetrack and riding again, against some of his old mates like Jack Thompson, Darby Munro and Scobie Breasley.

God bless you, George, none of us will forget you!
(Andrew Beattie - Head Australian Racing Correspondent)

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