Daniel Moor is not a household name in the Melbourne jockey ranks. Yet. It’s fair to say, he’s been chipping away over the past few years with success- and more and more of the successful trainers in Melbourne are voting with their feet and entrusting Daniel with rides on some of their better horses in the important black type races.
The confidence that trainers like the Freedman Brothers, Mick Price and Robert Smerdon are showing in him is contagious, and if Daniel Moor’s brilliant rails ride on Under The Louvre in last Saturday’s Group One Oakleigh Plate is any guide, then Group One success is starting to knock very loudly on his door.
His natural lightweight is a huge plus in Group race handicaps where experience is a key asset for trainers who have a genuine chance at the lower end of the weights scale.
Daniel Moor’s rise is a fitting reward for a very powerful work ethic. For humility and dedication. It is also a reminder that in racing, as in life, nothing is ever handed on a silver platter anymore. Persistence and hard work open doors and you get the feeling Daniel Moor could be about to grasp a well-deserved opportunity.
Below, he answers ten questions asked with refreshing candour, humility and great positivity in himself and the future of horse racing.
RB: Daniel, it’s a tough one, but who are your top ten jockeys in the world and why?
DM: It’s difficult to narrow it down to ten! There’s some amazing talent in the world at the moment. In no particular order, and I’m only mentioning currently active jockeys, here’s my personal Top Ten. Everyone will have their own.
1. Joao Moreira
He has amazing hands and balance. You can’t teach that, it’s a gift. He’s aggressive, his style is vigorous and effective, he’s light, his work ethic and integrity is second to none. I’ve never met him, but he presents himself well, too. Pretty much the complete package.
2. Damien Oliver
This guy’s record is nothing short of amazing. He has consistently ridden at the elite level in Australia and the world his whole career. He seems to read a race almost like he has ridden in it before. When he’s in brilliant form, which is most of the time, he consistently obtains the perfect run in transit and presents his horse at the right moment to finish powerfully. His timing is impeccable. I understand he has had his discrepancies, but that aside, he is the benchmark when it comes to jockeys in Australia.
3. Douglas Whyte
From what I have heard about Hong Kong, it sounds as if you have to be mentally strong and intelligent to survive, let alone be successful. This man conquered all before him for 13 consecutive years, against the best of the best, in the most competitive place in the world to ride. His record commands respect. He’s a hard, seasoned veteran of HK racing. I’m not sure why he’s often overlooked elsewhere around the world. Simply put, he is a genius.
4. Kerrin McEvoy
First of all, Kerrin is an outstanding human. He has time for anyone and is one of the most approachable people I have ever dealt with in my life. He is the product of hard work and dedication. Since his breakthrough win in the Melbourne Cup on “Brew”, his career has been all class. English and European Classics, the rich races of the Dubai World Cup, Hong Kong, elite level success at all the major Australian carnivals. You simply cannot question his record. He has a lovely seat, great hands and an economical, balanced style. Horses seem to relax for him then produce absolute peak level efforts in a finish without much fuss. Having ridden for Godolphin for some time in big events, he always seems calm and collected.
5. Christoph Soumillion
If this man was 5 kgs lighter, he could possibly be the best the world has seen. His ability to position a horse in running is brilliant and he seems to know exactly how the race is going to unfold. Christophe regularly rides all around the world and adapts to the nuances and characteristics of a new track with ease. Horses switch on and off for him almost at command. One of the strongest in a finish, too.
6. Ryan Moore
Ryan seems like one of the most grounded and level headed people in the world, an attribute that wouldn’t normally come with the success that this man has had. He’s been criticised for some of his rides in Australia, but mostly from people who don’t understand or respect horsemanship. Like the other jockeys I’ve mentioned. he’s tactically brilliant. He doesn’t care where he is in the run just so long as his horse is comfortable and happy. This can take confidence and guts, because to the average joe, happily rolling along 3 wide can appear to be detrimental and “an ordinary ride”. To truly understand a horse and its paces is an art and probably a gift. This guy has it in spades.
7. Zac Purton
I’ve always looked up to Zac. He was the larrikin apprentice we all aspired to be when we were starting out. He’s got an amazing natural seat on a horse. His style is vigourous yet smooth and always polished. He rides on a lovely length or rein and horses just seem to relax for him. To knock Douglas off his perch after 13 years is a testament to his hard work and dedication. Zac seems to be still improving as a rider with results in major races in HK, Singapore, Japan and Australia at the latest point in his career. He’s the jockey you point to and say “He made it because he decided to make it.”
What can you say about L. Dettori?Good and bad, its all been said. He’s just lovely to watch. A great smooth style, makes the right decisions where required and adapts well to different courses and countries, all around the world. His G1 successes are amazing and his consistency over such a long time is impeccable.
9. Gary Stevens
Just the sheer amount of winners this man has ridden in his career is amazing. Over 5000. He’s been consistently successful in multiple Breeders Cup events, ridden winners all around the world including the UK, Hong Kong and France. His style is great, with a typically american seat and length of rein. Tactically adaptable and brilliant. A champion.
10. A.P McCoy
Have an enormous amount of respect for cross country riders and AP would have to be the best in the world. His record is unrivalled. Fearless and tactically brilliant, he is able to get a horse to relax and settle into a great rhythm. I haven’t had any experience in riding over obstacles, but i can appreciate and only imagine the kind of skill thats required to measure a horses stride leading into a jump, along with all the other technical aspects.
RB: Where do you think you are right now as far as your career is concerned and where would you like it to be in the next two years?
DM: I feel as though I’m in a great place in my life, personally and professionally. I started relatively late, having my first ride at 18 years of age. In the last 5 years since teaming up with The Freedmans, I’ve realised you must appreciate every ride and make it count.
Since I started my family, my priorities shifted dramatically. My emphasis is upholding a high level of self respect and integrity, maintaining a work ethic that commands respect and being professional in my approach to preparation and execution of rides.
I feel as though I am riding in the best form of my career. I’m being entrusted with rides from the likes of the Freedmans, Mick Price, Robert Smerdon and Godolphin, to name a few.
I may not be on their number one chance in the race all the time, but to have those stables in my corner is a great asset.
I’ve got a burning desire to ride a G1 winner in Australia within the next 12 to 18 months.
I was painfully close in this years Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield as well as other placings at the highest level, but i’m yet to crack it.
The way Australia is at the moment in relation to the competition in the riding ranks, even securing a ride in a group 1 is difficult.
I’d also like to ride overseas, Hong Kong is, in my mind, the pinnacle, although Singapore is a very close second and, hopefully, a more realistic short term goal.
RB: How have you changed as a rider- physically and mentally? Some remember you as a pretty cocky apprentice. Fair call?
DM: I’ve probably explained it a little in the previous question, but I can elaborate a little further.
Physically, I’m definitely stronger, probably just through maturity, I’d say. I’m naturally very light. Riding work most days helps with that as well, but you must still work on your strength and flexibility. I’d like to think i’m quite vigorous, yet adaptable where required.
I was definitely a cocky apprentice, thats a very fair call. I was having good success without much effort, and as a young teenager born in a country town to a working class family, money and the bright lights of the city were a new thing to me. That aside, its no excuse.
Thankfully, drugs and alcohol were never a temptation for me, although I think I could have had better guidance, something Racing Victoria has now perfected at the apprentice academy.
Mentally, in the last 5 years, I’ve done a complete 180. Every single ride means something to me, integrity and application is paramount.
There is a lot of time, money and effort poured into the horse that you’re riding, and that can be ruined with an average ride due to a blasé attitude.
Sure, I still make mistakes here and there, but you can be assured my preparation and application is of the highest level.
Those attributes, along with good old fashioned hard work, help mistakes become a rarity.
RB: Damian Lane, pictured below, will soon be in Hong Kong: You’ve ridden against him. Your thoughts?
DM: Damian Lane is an outstanding talent. He’s a great young rider with an ability that comes naturally to him. He has made the most of the opportunities he’s been given since moving to Victoria from Western Australia.
As long as he goes to Hong Kong with a high level of respect for his surroundings, then it will be an amazing experience for him and i wish him the best of luck.
RB: What are the up and down sides to being a jockey these days?
DM: The upside is it’s not really a “Job”. Some people pay good money to ride horses, I get paid to do it. The adrenaline rush from winning is amazing, too. It doesn’t really matter where you’re winning- on the provincial circuit or metropolitan area- you still get a great buzz and sense of satisfaction of a job well done.
The downside is the hours. I’ve found I really need to manage my time wisely- especially with a partner and two young children. I feel I have a great balance in my life at the moment, and it works for me.
You also have to look after yourself mentally. Depression and bad habits can creep up on you fast. You must learn to deal with the lean periods, and appreciate the highlights. It’s a fine line between caring too much or too little, and how we all deal with that is different.
At this point, I feel I have a great balance, but you never stop learning.
RB: Who are those who have helped and influenced your career and how?
DM: Tony Vasil, below, was the master of my apprenticeship in the later years.
His influence was great. At the time, he was running a very successful stable, yet still made the time to coach me. He helped refine my skills and style and gave me opportunities to handle pressure in big races.
He’s a great friend to this day.
More recently, Anthony and Lee Freedman have been very influential. They have discovered and groomed some of Australia’s best riders. You could say I came to them 5 years ago to begin my “second” apprenticeship, albeit as a senior rider. I’ve developed and refined the skills required to ride for such a stable. I am very grateful to them for that. You never stop learning.
RB: How does having a young family affect your thinking about your career as a jockey?
DM: I wasn’t really sure how or if having a family would affect me. I’m not sure anyone is! Thankfully, it’s all been positive. Obviously, the financial obligations become larger and you value your licence to ride along with your integrity. The flow affect of that is a hunger and desire to become the best you can be. So thats a big positive. I guess most fathers would also like their children and families to look up to and be proud of them. A lot of that can come through great success along with being a good person.
RB: Regrets and highlights?
DM: My only regret is not making the most of opportunities. We were always told, but rarely listened. If I had the same approach to life when I was young as I do now, I probably would have achieved my goals a little sooner.
Not to worry though, I’m still young and willing to work extremely hard. If you’re prepared to work awfully hard, then doors open up.
Highlights would be, obviously, my biggest victories. I’ve ridden a good amount of winners from Listed to Group 2 level, and made the most of my Group 1 opportunities.
Riding in the Caulfield Cup as a claiming apprentice was a great confidence boost from Tony Vasil, but just being entrusted to ride in races at the elite level is very satisfying.
RB: What does the future hold for Daniel Moor?
DM: The greatest part of my career! My life is in an amazing place. I have a loving family, a great attitude on life and work, a great opportunity to work hard and achieve results. I must have my opportunity to ride overseas, and I’m willing to do what it takes to do so.
RB: How competitive is it being a jockey in Oz? Guess you wouldn’t want Joao Moreira moving to Melbourne:)?????
DM: I may be biased, but Victoria at the moment is one of the most competitive racing jurisdictions in the world. Even a mid-week meeting at a provincial racecourse will see Melbourne’s best riding along with up to around forty other jockeys. Every ride is earned and top jockeys may only go to these meetings for 3 or 4 rides.
Damien Oliver riding at a meeting 3 hours away from Melbourne is a good indicator of just how hard you have to work.
But in answer to your question- No! You can keep Joao over there for a while, please!