No-one would have been prouder of jockey Ryan Moore’s win on HM The Queen’s horse, Estimate, at Royal Ascot this year, than his late grandfather, Charlie Moore, who died at the age of 74 in October 2000.
For Charlie founded the remarkable Moore racing dynasty, now headed by his son, trainer and former jockey Gary Moore, with all of his grandchildren, Ryan, Jamie, Joshua and Hayley familiar names as jockeys.
Anyone who knew Charlie can count themselves lucky. He was a great personality with a bottomless supply of jokes, as well as a great love for horses. His premature death followed three heart attacks and a quadruple bypass operation.
But he had stepped into the racing world almost by chance. Brought up in Sussex, his family moved to Swindon when the war broke out. When Charlie was called up, he had 15 ponies.
He knew all about horses but was not familiar with racing. When he told me years ago about how he got into racing, it was another side-splitting moment.
He related:”In the mid 50’s I was living in Brighton and running my garage business, when I sold a car too a chef at Aylesbury. There was a sale of racehorses at Epsom and I called in on the way home to see how things went.”
“I was just standing there with my catalogue, rubbing my nose or chin. The auctioneer asked:”Is that a bid sir? I didn’t take any notice because I didn’t think he was talking to me. But her persisted and his manner was so rude that I said: ‘ All right then it isd.’ and bought the mare for £200.”
He was now the owner of McRee but had nowhere to put her. So he ended up sending her to a permit holder at Pyecombe, just outside Brighton. He went to the next Ascot sales and bought Sandy Straight, a gelding for the top price of the day, £250.
He told me: “I rode them out every day and trained them myself. Then Sandy Straight won at 33-1 and because he was trained under permit, I didn’t see any of the ;prizemoney. I didn’t understand about racing then, but I thought if that was racing, I would get my own permit.”
Which is exactly what he did. He moved the horses to Ingleside Stables at Woodingdean, when it was Mr Goldsmith’s yard- he was manager of Brighton Racecourse. His wife, Lorna, used to lead up and Charlie used to drive the lorry and ride the horses.
When he was married at the age of 28, he weighed only seven stone and believed that the lack of racing opportunites as a boy prevented him from making the mark as a jockey.
“I was no good- I was placed a few times but | had never had the opportunities I needed,” he told me.
His first buy, McCree proved a good mare and the last time she ran. Charlie finished second on her at Wye, Lorna had backed her each way at 33-1. One of Charlie’s other early purchases was a gelding named Senegal, first seen in a field at Pyecombe where Charlie was delivering lorry wheels and two tyres to a customer.
He recalled: The horse was about to be put down because of leg problems but when I looked up his form I found he had never been out of the prizemoney on the Flat.and obviously had an engine. I decided to take a chance and the end result was that I exchanged him for the tyres and wheels which were worth £55.”
” He was the best touch I ever had. I rode him at Wye in a race where Joe Guest was riding Quick Sandy. Joe won the race after we slipped on the final turn and hit the running rail with me breaking my collarbone. I told Joe we would have won if he had stood up. Joe said I must be concussed!,” said Charlie.
He asked Joe Guest to riide the horse at Wye the following Monday, where he would win.
“I led him out of the paddock and told Joe to kick him in the belly three from home and keep kicking until he was kicking me int he winner’s enclosure. We won by six lengths and I backed him off the board from 33-1 down to 16-1,” he said.
Four years after taking out his permit, Charlie had his first heart attack and took out his first full licence from Ingleside Stables close to the one-mile straight at Brighton Racecourse.
In his best season in the 1980’s he trained 23 winners over jumps, was top trainer at both Fontwell Park and Plumpton and shared the top trainer award with Josh Gifford at Lingfield Park,.
He trained more than 90 winners for Brighton businessman Ken Higson over the years and trained Morton The Hatter to give veteran owner Frank Hill his 100th wiinner twice! The gelding was announced winner at Fontwell Park only for the decision to be changed after the judge changed his mind., Then the horse went out and won next time out.
Charlie had stars in his yard, including Lir, who beat Broadsword in the Aurelius Hurdle and Royal Measure, who won at Cheltenham- and there were good horses like Chewit, Lift Boy, North West- but his favourite was Bonidon, and the horse broke Charlie’s heart.
” Bonidon was a box-walker, a crib-sucker and had a heart worse than mine, and had to have a sheep in his box for company. We had to take it to the races with us. I only paid £200 for him and he won seven races for me at Plumpton.
” It would have been his eighth win there but he fell and broke his neck when he was 11 years old. I cried like a baby because I loved him so much,” he revealed.
His true love was jumping, but with the arrival of all-weather flat racing, he had a dual-purpose string when he eventually retired in January 1997, handing over the reins to his son Gary,
A remarkable person, and it is sad he didn’t live to see how the Moore dynasty he founded with that unwiitting bid at Ascot races has done him so proud.
Moore’s first love was jumping, but he took more interest in the Flat when all-weather racing arrived and towards the end of his career he virtually had a dual-purpose string. He retired in January 1997 when Gary took over the
Moore’s colourful life was not confined to racing. He spent 112 days in a military prison having “deserted” when his mother was given notice to quit the pub she was running.
Over the last year, he took great pleasure watching the growing success in the saddle of eldest grandson Ryan who, like his two children, is developing into a talented jockey.