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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Moore insight would delight racing fans

The Thursday column

Capri provided Ryan Moore with a first victory in the St Leger
1 of 1

If you were attempting to create the perfect world, the task of trying to get Ryan Moore to open up a little in media interviews would be a long way down the list of priorities. Even in the racing microcosm there are far more pressing issues to address.

But that’s not to say the desire to rid him of his reluctance to talk when he spots a microphone or notepad does not exist.

On Saturday Moore gave the latest in what is becoming a disappointingly familiar pattern of answering questions, when Lydia Hislop attempted to get him to discuss his winning ride aboard US Navy Flag in the Dewhurst.

The questions were not from the Paxman book of short-pitched deliveries by any means. Hislop, who is perfectly capable of getting into someone’s ribs when the circumstances are right and certainly doesn’t need me to fight her battles, instead asked Moore intelligently and interestingly about how he grabbed the rail and used it to maximise his colt’s chances of success.

She got little change out of him. Moore answered as economically or tersely, depending on your point of view, as he could and viewers were given precious little insight into how the jockey executed the winning move and whether it was planned or spontaneous.

This is par for the course these days when Moore is asked to discuss a ride. Instead of our viewing pleasure being enriched by a leading rider telling us a bit about what went into victory or why defeat occurred we brace ourselves to feel discomfort as he offers so little by way of response to questions that are rarely remotely challenging.

And yet some folk think this is all fine. I was amazed to see people who in every other respect fall firmly into the intelligent category supporting Moore’s reticence on Twitter after Saturday’s dismal exchange with Hislop.

Others agree with me that Moore could easily and painlessly relax and give more elaborate replies and that everyone, not least the man himself, would benefit.

Racing is a strange sport in that its main participants cannot speak so it is all the more appreciated when the people who ride them are able to offer an illuminating view from the saddle.

Thankfully plenty of jockeys do a really good job of bringing the racing fan closer to the action by describing races in detail.

Clearly not everyone has that natural ability to articulate their thoughts as clearly and insightfully as the likes of Frankie, Tom Scudamore, Ruby Walsh and many others, but Moore can. I have heard him speak interestingly about riding a number of times.

His father Gary is always excellent value for a quote, as are his brothers Jamie and Josh, and his sister Hayley is a broadcaster so, while that does not guarantee every single member of the family is bound to be able to chat like Gary Neville, it is fair to say Ryan was not brought up in an environment in which there was silence around the dinner table.

Moore chooses not to be media-friendly for reasons of his own. For example he does not communicate with this newspaper’s journalists and feature writers because he believes a story we ran a few years ago about him potentially being injured for longer than transpired threatened to cost him rides during the lucrative international season towards the end of the year.

It matters not that since then we have carried countless references to his brilliance in the saddle, but that is his right and he is, of course, perfectly entitled to it.

Indeed not everyone is bothered whether he maintains his current stance towards the media of speaking reluctantly or not at all. My son, for instance, got into racing through backing Moore religiously and enjoying plenty of winning days as a result, and he told me could not care less whether his new idol said nothing at all or recited hand-written poems in the press box every time he won a seller.

But by common consent it is felt that sports generally benefit from their leading participants connecting with fans through the media and it strikes me as a big shame that Moore feels he cannot speak as openly as his peers either because of what he views as bad treatment in the past or through an apathy that is so apparent when he does stop to offer a few words.

There is nothing anyone can do to change the situation. He does as he likes and that’s that.

But it is nonetheless sad that this brilliant jockey, so widely and rightly respected throughout the sport, and especially by the media, is so unwilling to let the public into his professional world.

In the next few days we build up to Australian wondermare Winx’s bid to win her third successive Cox Plate. Journalists and broadcasters covering the story will be able to enrich their output with an almost unlimited supply of great quotes from her trainer Chris Waller and jockey Hugh Bowman.

This will in turn heighten interest in Winx, especially from outside the sport’s usual audience, and racing in Australia will benefit as a consequence.

Moore does loads to promote the popularity of racing in Britain and Ireland through his massive ability as a rider, but it is a pity he won’t go a little further and let his words as well as his actions drive interest in the sport and admiration for him.


Stamford Bridge loan policy looks costly

We all know football is not run like a normal business, so there is no point trying to compare it to a modern commercial organisation.

I always laugh when someone calls a radio station to put their oar in and then illustrates their view by saying something like: “I work in insurance and if I made as many mistakes as referees do I’d get the sack.”

But even allowing for the unique weirdness of professional football it is bewildering that some clubs have such a bizarre attitude to recruitment.

I refer specifically to Chelsea, who seem to own roughly 197 professional footballers but send the vast majority of them on loan, even though some of those outcasts look to many of us to be better than the players who, mostly at great expense, have been hired because the existing personnel are not considered good enough.

On Saturday, not for the first time, I concluded Chelsea have made two chronic misjudgements in the composition of their squad, most notably with Michy Batshuayi being given the role of back-up striker to Alvaro Morata while a better alternative in Tammy Abraham is left to progress his career at Swansea.

And it is barely less strange that Tiemoue Bakayoko gets a start in the engine room when the classy Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been farmed out to Palace.


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It is irrelevant that Abraham and Loftus-Cheek are English and that some view their relocation as being detrimental to the national team.

The bottom line is Chelsea seem to be dazzled by players they don’t have instead of developing and utilising the ones they do.

If they had given Abraham and Loftus-Cheek squad places this season it would have saved them millions and made them more successful. Promoting homegrown talent seems to work pretty well for Spurs.


Clear red cards aren't open to debate

One day it would be so nice if a TV channel could broadcast a player being sent off without considering it obligatory to debate at length whether the dismissal was valid.

I thought it might happen when I saw Andy Carroll being sent off for two stupidly reckless aerial challenges on Saturday but I soon realised how naive that was of me.

It is impossible that anyone who does not support West Ham or is related to the big striker could claim Carroll did not deserve to walk, so journalists, broadcasters and pundits should simply acknowledge the dismissal has occurred and carry on.

It is as if these people feel their investigation into the decision is remotely relevant, which it is not. In the history of football no player has been recalled from the bench or the shower and told to resume playing because Robbie Savage, Howard Webb, Alan Green or anyone else who is not the actual arbiter has decided the expulsion was an error.


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Moore answered as economically or tersely, depending on your point of view, as he could
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