Amid the glamour, ceremony and expensive drinks prevalent at the five day English horse racing meeting of Royal Ascot, it was a sobering thought to realise that amongst many of the celebrations for the winning horses, the jockeys involved in those rides retained a sense of normality with Ryan Moore and Graham Lee, in particular, displaying a degree of modesty despite their achievements during the week. For the participating jockeys, Ascot week is just part of their job and they try not to lose that perspective with Moore and Lee, who enjoyed relatively more success than their counterparts, conducting their media interviews and discussions with trainers with the appropriate degree of professionalism.
Ryan Moore, in particular, enjoyed a memorable week at Ascot by riding nine winners by the end of the fourth day to secure a record for jockeys at the meeting. The three times champion flat jockey has now been contracted as first choice rider for the powerful Aidan O’Brien stable in Ireland and there is no doubt that the impressive form of the horses from that yard such as Gleneagles and War Envoy helped Moore to claim so many winners.
However, there was no boasting from Moore afterwards and he was ever willing to reserve genuine credit for the trainers and stable staff for whichever horse he had ridden to victory. He would also reflect that success in one race doesn’t necessarily guarantee another win in subsequent races as happened in the Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday when finishing second on Kingfisher. He encountered interference on several occasions in the finishing straight and Moore is sufficiently wise to know that criticism can aimed in the direction of a jockey just as easily as the plaudits.
Moore was beaten in the Gold Cup by Trip to Paris which was ridden by former national hunt jockey Graham Lee. Northern-based Lee won the Grand National over 30 fences in 2004 on the Ginger McCain horse Amberleigh House and enjoyed much success as a relative lightweight compared to his fellow jump jockeys. After incurring several injuries and being asked by the legendary Tony McCoy why his didn’t contemplate converting to the less hazardous flat circuit, Lee decided to gamble on being a flat jockey and has not regretted the decision.
After winning the Stewards Cup at Goodwood in 2012 over just six furlongs, his win on Thursday aboard Trip To Paris in the most prestigious race of the meeting cemented his position as a leading flat jockey. When interviewed afterwards, there was no attempt at promoting any personal glory, as it was rather a case of a job done and highlighting the efforts of all staff concerned. Yet few jockeys can claim such a significant achievement as Lee by winning these races in the differing codes of English horse racing.
Jockeys can be saints and sinners in the same day and it was reassuring to note the down-to-earth attitude of the most successful of these sportsmen even when there was such much glitz and show being displayed all around Ascot racecourse last week.