Being a jumps jockey is widely regarded as one of the toughest professions in sport. It requires tremendous levels of determination, resilience, and bravery: three attributes which 35-year-old jockey Jamie Moore has had to call upon several times in 2020.
In March he saw his dreams of winning another Grade One at Cheltenham crushed, and in August he broke his back and sternum in a fall at Fontwell.
And most importantly, he has been supporting his wife Lucie who has undergone chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.
That fateful day in March
On 13 March at the Cheltenham festival, I stood 10 yards away from the winning post as Moore, aboard the abundantly talented novice hurdler Goshen, was bounding clear up Cleeve Hill. Having annihilated his rivals, he was ready to soak in a memorable Grade One Triumph Hurdle victory.
Seconds later though, you could hear a penny drop, as Moore fell to the floor with the horse having clipped his own heels jumping the last.
“I still think about it everyday…It killed me, it broke me in two. You just wish you had done something differently. I felt I had let everyone down, and I was gutted for myself as well because Grade Ones don’t come around that often.”
For the individuals that truly understand the highs and lows of the sport and those closest to him, they could only attempt to console him in the aftermath. Goshen had gone off a well backed 5/2 favourite for the event, but that did not condone the behaviour of certain punters on social media.
“[They] told me to break my neck, break my leg or get the coronavirus…they wanted their money back off me.”
As a measure of the man he is, Moore apologised to everyone involved with the horse, including his father and trainer Gary Moore, owner Steve Packham and each punter who backed it.
Thank you to all the messages about Goshen yesterday, who was running like something not normal. From the bottom of my heart I’m genuinely so sorry to everyone I let down I really am,it’s been so tough to take but it’s happened, I hope he gets to show how special he is. Thanks
— Jamie Moore (@jemoore85) March 14, 2020
Moore hasn’t had a proper opportunity to rectify things, as the country went into lockdown not long after, which made it worse as it was being replayed on racing channels over and over again.
Goshen has since run on the flat and returned over hurdles in the Grade Two International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday 12 November , only to finish a well-beaten last due to a fibrillating heart condition.
However, the Brighton man still retains the faith in Goshen’s abilities: “He is a special horse and I’m pretty sure of what he can and will achieve.”
Horrific injury at Fontwell in August
Like most jockeys, Moore is no stranger to injuries, but what happened on 18 August at Fontwell, was as bad as it gets. Thrown out of the saddle five fences from home aboard the John Bridger-trained Alka Step, he knew something was badly wrong.
“When I fell my arms and legs were gone from me, and my whole body was pins and needles. Then every time I was breathing I could feel my sternum clicking and said to the doctor; ‘I’ve broken my sternum and probably my back as well’.”
Despite all this, the only thing on the 35-year-old’s mind was his wife.
“I told the doctor, ‘Can you please take me to Brighton hospital and not Chichester because my wife is going through chemotherapy there for breast cancer and I can see her when she comes out.’
“That was the thing that was worrying me more than anything…It’s been a hard few months.”
Jockeys are resilient beings, and when his back had been operated upon the doctors gave him a six-month recovery period. Moore was back in three.
“I got out of hospital six days after the operation, I was on the exercise bike after 10 days and doing press-ups after two weeks.
“I have been injured so many times that I knew if I worked the pain, I’d get the blood flowing around my body again and thankfully, it worked.”
Moore returned to the saddle on the 13th of November and rode a winner just two days later. Returning to the scene of that most difficult day in August, he guided the talented Nassalam to an easy victory for his father.
He has had a few people to thank for his remarkably swift recovery: “[AP’s wife] Chanelle McCoy and her company provided me with a food supplement called PureisCBD, and Peter O’Sullevan House in Newmarket has also been very helpful.”
Racing, Family and the Future
Moore’s sheer grit may have had something to do with his upbringing in sports-mad Brighton and a family ingrained in racing.
His father Gary, is a dual-purpose trainer; brother Ryan a world-renowned flat jockey; other brother Joshua a flat jockey; and sister Hayley a presenter for Sky Sports Racing.
The highlight of his career thus far was when Sire De Grugy, trained by his father, won the Grade One Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March 2014.
“I had probably the best horse in the country that year. He was massive for me.
“It was a special day at Cheltenham because all the boys came out of the weighing room and clapped me in because they knew I’d had my fair share of injuries and could relate to what I’d been through.”
It is often said you need to be somewhat mad to be a jumps jockey, but Moore takes the danger in his stride: “It’s like putting on my socks in the morning…it’s part of my nature.”
But with three young kids to care for and a wife who is now hopefully in the clear having had her tumour removed, Moore is conscious of the future: “I certainly know the risks but it’s my job and my wife and kids understand that…What I’ve gone through compared to my wife is easy.”
Similar to a jockey being at one with a horse over a fence, Moore’s love for his family and his profession will be forever intertwined. No matter the heartache or the pain of 2020, he will live to fight another day.