Moore aims to supply twist in tale for Queen
Ryan Moore was once so majestically monosyllabic that just five disdainful words could feel like a treatise by Wittgenstein. Even his father, the charismatic Sussex trainer Gary, once jested that he had become a "miserable b******".
Seeking some consoling signs that he might have changed, here outside the weighing room on a sun-dappled day at Sandown Park, is not an auspicious exercise as the jockey learns that he must have his photograph taken. "Oh, I can't be bothered with that," he sighs, weariness flooding his gaunt frame.
As Moore takes centre stage today, riding the Queen's filly Estimate in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, he remains a fascinating character study. His unease at eye contact, coupled with a pinched face capable of mischievous looks, calls to mind a young scamp of Dickensian London, just without the soot on his cheeks. Refreshingly, this 29-year-old Oliver Twist displays the attitude towards certain stiff mores to match.
I ask if he grew up harbouring any affection or affinity for Royal Ascot, that centrepiece of the summer social calendar. "Not really, no," he says, chuckling. "As a child, Ascot wasn't really on our radar. In the house, there would tend to be tennis or football on instead.
"We would be off to Goodwood, because my dad always had a better chance of a winner there. Ascot's a massive occasion in the sport, and it's the best week's racing we have. But they were advertising it on radio yesterday. They made it all sound so, well, 'up there'." He points at the ceiling.
"Maybe it has changed, but all those top hats? Nah."
The renegade outlook sits uneasily with Moore's apparent perceptions of royalty more broadly. Mention the Queen and he becomes a model of 'Yes, ma'am' deference. "I know I'm very privileged to ride for her regularly," he accepts. "Plus, I like to think I have brought her a little luck over the years. I hope that I can bring her some more."
Already bookmakers are biting on the romance of a storyline coupling Moore, fresh from his second Derby triumph on Ruler Of The World, with the Queen, seeking her 22nd victory as the Duke of Edinburgh recovers from abdominal surgery. Estimate, fancied at 5/1, has delivered for the monarch before, winning the Queen's Vase in the midst of last summer's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, but the man in the saddle is eager to douse restless anticipation.
Conscious that no filly has won the Gold Cup since Indian Queen 20 years ago, and that Estimate was only a 16/1 chance the last time she won at York, Moore argues: "The only reason why she is at such short odds this time is because of who owns her. She still has to find a lot of improvement."
Sometimes one forgets the pressure that Moore, all of eight-and-a-half stone dripping wet, carries upon those slight shoulders. He has ridden for the Queen for more than a decade, securing his first ride in royal colours aboard Generous Shore at Salisbury in 2002. He came fourth, furnishing the owner with the far from regal sum of £282.50.
"Yeah, I remember," he says, breaking into a rare smile. "Chestnut filly. I do recall that I was quite pleased to get a place." He'll be hoping for a little more today. (© Daily Telegraph, London)