Meet some avid equestrians who are following their horsey passion in their golden years to find out how they keep
An 80-year-old jockey will bid to become the oldest winner of the Newmarket Town Plate as he raises money for the children’s hospital where his grandson spent days in intensive care shortly after he was born.
Colin Moore said it will mean “everything” if he makes history as the oldest rider to win the race, run in memory of former trainer Julie Cecil, on his own Ballyrath, on Saturday (27 August).
Colin became a grandfather for the third time in February, when his youngest son, Alex, and Alex’s wife Sam welcomed baby Ralph.
“I’ve already got two granddaughters but my first grandson arrived this year, however he was very poorly for the first few weeks when he was born,” said Colin.
Ralph was born in Chester hospital, near where his parents live, and came home for the first few days. But on 8 February, he was taken back to hospital as he developed high-level jaundice. His condition began to deteriorate and he was transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital with a suspected heart problem.
“It was quite upsetting, as they said to Alex and Sam ‘Go home and get clothes as you will have to stay there’ and he was transferred off in a little oxygen tent on his own by the North West and North Wales Paediatric Transport Service from Chester to Liverpool,” said Colin.
“They stayed there for a few days as it was quite serious with his condition – he was on a ventilator in intensive care.”
Ralph was allowed home on 10 February, when his heart scan came back clear, and it was discovered that he was fighting an infection.
“Thankfully now he is fine, and he will be there on Saturday which is great,” said Colin.
“The team did a great job and I just felt like I wanted to help them and hopefully I can raise a few pounds doing this. His ordeal has definitely helped act as an inspiration for doing this year’s race.
“He is now six months old and he is a big bonny lad so I don’t think he will be a jockey but it will be nice for him to carry the name on.”
Colin is aiming to raise £500 in the amateur race, which first ran in 1666, to support Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. He is also fundraising for the Injured Jockeys Fund.
“I think I’d be quite emotional and I will probably cry if I did win, what with Ralph being there and with it being on old Ballyrath, who has been an absolute cracker for us,” he added.
“Lester Piggott was my absolute idol but he wouldn’t show any emotion apart from smile a bit, and I’d definitely do more than that!”
The former jump jockey, whose sole win over fences came aboard 50-1 shot Sam Of Tam at Worcester in November 1961, will partner the 12-year-old Ballyrath on Saturday.
“I’ve been riding out a hell of a lot at Gary Hanmer’s, where Ballyrath is now based. I’ve been riding up to six lots a day and in that heat a few weeks ago it was a bit of a killer,” he said.
“Apart from riding I have an exercise bike and I go out on the road bike and I do a little of bit of weight training as well.
“Everything has been going well on the bike, except for when I went out on the road the other weekend. There is one big hill I go up, I got round that, then I got into the next village a mile and a half from home and I got a puncture, so I had to walk back with it!”
Ballyrath marked his return to racing after more than two-and-a-half years in January with a 66-1 win at Wetherby under Tabitha Worsley.
“I had a feeling he would get a place so I backed him at 40-1 each-way then I backed him at 66-1 to win. He seems to like Wetherby as it is his sort of track.
“We are going to have to be up near the pace on Saturday in the Town Plate with it being [a shorter distance] at 2m1f this year. Hopefully we will get a few carting off down to the start to use up some of their energy! He is really well at the moment and he will probably go back to Wetherby after this.
“Everybody is totally behind me and a lot of Gary’s owners want to support the Injured Jockeys Fund.”
And Colin has not ruled out returning for the 2023 race, revealing he has another horse waiting in the wings if he does decide to have another crack next year.
“I’m not sure about riding in it after this year – we will have to see, 80 is a nice round number. If I do it will be on our other horse Daranova and I think he would go very close as he is only eight,” he said.
“I do think I’m a bit of a freak that I can still do this, but although I packed up race-riding I never really stopped as I’ve always been riding out somewhere even when I went into the reinforced concrete business after racing.
“I do sometimes think, ‘why am I doing it?’ because of my age. But I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t feel right. There will be a time and a day when I do say no, but I still get a buzz out of it, even riding work.”
To donate to Alder Hey, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/colin-moore19 and to donate to the Injured Jockeys Fund, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/colin-moore18
You might also be interested in:
From the inaugural winner to a modern-day star, Ellie Hughes, Catherine Austen and Pippa Roome pick Burghley’s horse heroes
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.