Ryan Moore - Should He Stay or Should He Go?
After analysing the Irish Derby in my last blog, I decided to carry out a poll on Twitter to see whether people think Ballydoyle should continue to support Ryan Moore as their number one jockey. I feel this is a question that the big players in the racing media have not addressed. Before I created the poll I felt that people would come out and support Ryan Moore and the result probably would have been 60%-40% in his favour. However when I looked at the result from my poll I was astonished, as 71% voted that Aidan O’Brien should part company with Ryan Moore, with 29% believing he should stay at Ballydoyle. I know that Ryan Moore has divided a lot of opinion in recent years and received some criticism in the big races but I did not foresee that outcome. In this blog I will try and look at some of the reasons to why this might be.
First of all is it frustrated punters? Are people just angry after tearing up their betting slips? I do think bookmakers with their pricing are slightly to blame for the negative feedback on Ryan Moore. As mentioned in my last blog whatever Moore decides to ride for O’Brien, bookies are often going to make that horse favourite especially in the feature races. Since the start of 2018 Ryan Moore has only ridden 3/9 Aidan O’Brien’s classic winners. They have been Kew Gardens, Flag of Honour & Hermosa. These winners either came in the last classics of the flat season or were previously ridden by another Ballydoyle jockey when they had their initial before Ryan Moore was booked. Horses such as Gustav Klimt, Saxon Warrior, Magic Wand & Ten Sovereigns have all been strongly fancied and had big reputations but have ultimately not delivered on their initial promise at the start of the season. Saxon Warrior was one of the biggest hyped horses in recent memory when he was favourite for the Epsom Derby and his final SP was 4-5. However he didn’t live up to expectations and he could only muster 4th place in the famous race. At the time Twitter would have gone into melt down and people who are not too educated in racing would either blamed the jockey or the horse. As it turns out the horse just couldn’t stay the trip and was likely to be effective as a miler, but he only found this out months after the race. This example supports the point that I made in my last blog about Aidan O’Brien’s horses being unknown quantities at the start of the season. Therefore I think it is unfair to be critical of Ryan Moore in the early part of the season because he is is most likely to pick his rides on what the horses have shown at Ballydoyle and its often the case that sometimes horses that are the classiest show very little at home. Ryan also admitted in a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph that he only spends a limited amount of time in the spring with Ballydoyle and he wishes he spend more time there. This could be another reason why his form might have dipped in the classic races.
However looking at the statistics for Ryan Moore last season he had a ratio of 86/477 (18%) which was his lowest win rate since 2010, so maybe it is worth a second look. From my perspective this matches up with some of the thoughts that I initially had. It appeared to me that in 2017 when I started to follow racing in more detail, Ryan Moore was the best jockey around for the big occasion. Looking back in hindsight the reason probably why I thought this was because of the talent Aidan O’Brien had in his stable. That season he broke the record for the Most Group Ones in a single season with Ryan Moore riding most of them to victory. Last year Aidan O’Brien still had a good year but probably not the quality of the season before. This might suggest why Ryan’s strike rate was slightly down. On the other hand I have seen Ryan on some rides recently and just feel that he isn’t riding the races as tactically astute has he's been in the past. One particular ride springs to mind with a horse called Mekong which was hotly fancied for Sir Michael Stoute in a Listed contest at York. Moore went to the front early on in that race which was a mistake because Mekong needs a strong pace to be delivered late. The horse was keen but I still feel he could have been given a patient ride, consequently the horse was well beaten coming into the home straight and was easily passed. All jockeys can make mistakes but that particular ride I thought was unfair to the horse. On the other hand, sure enough he then turned up at Royal Ascot and rode several winners including giving an impressive ride on Circus Maximus to win the St James Palace Stakes on the opening day, showing that he still one of the top jockeys.
Another factor why I think Ryan Moore probably receives some negativity is because of his personality compared to the likes of Frankie Dettori who is the face of racing to the British Public. Ryan Moore tends to shy away from television interviews and when he does speak he gives the bare minimum information to the interviewer portraying him with a dull character. However when the trainers and owners speak about Ryan, they speak of him with the highest praise. This is probably the major factor in the Frankie Dettori V Ryan Moore debate within race.
My last point in this debate is who would replace Ryan Moore at Ballydoyle? The obvious candidate is probably Donnacha O’Brien. Despite him being the most likely candidate Donnacha has stated in his interviews that he probably won’t be a jockey in the long term because of the physical issues and he might follow a similar route to his older brother and now rising trainer Joseph O’Brien. This is why Donnacha pushed himself last season to become Irish Champion Jockey. The top crop of jockeys in Britain such as Oisin Murphy, James Doyle, and Daniel Tudhope all have powerful connections at the moment and I am not sure if they would want to break their commitments. Over in Ireland names such as Colin Keane, Chris Hayes, Billy Lee and Shane Foley could all be considered but I don’t think any of these names could do a better job than Ryan’s doing now. I think people need to recognise that in all sports the top icons all go through tough moments in their careers and even though Ryan Moore isn’t at his peak in 2019 I think he is still going strong and should continue to remain as Ballydoyle’s number one.