I am a big fan of Ryan Moore as a jockey. I don’t know if I would relish going for a night out with him, to a lap dancing or comedy club. But, when he is in the saddle, i admire his talent and his professionalism.
I am biased. He has won me more money than any other jockey in recent years.
I don’t want to meet Ryan. Or interview him. Although i would relish the challenge of bringing him out of his shell, that would have to be on a day when he is not racing. Perhaps when he is at home with his loving and tight knit family. They seem a nice family to me, and talented.
My fear is that i wouldn’t get through to the real Ryan. That my interview technique would fall flat. That by the time Ryan realised i was a good guy, it would be too late and he would have muttered some one liners while consulting the kitchen clock.
So best i just leave it. Continue to admire his riding skills and no more.
I have a cameraman friend who has covered racing for many years. He gets up close and personal to jockeys every working day. He tells me that Ryan loathes him and that, as a consequence, the feeling is mutual. I am told that Moore’s limited way with words does not inhibit his use of profanity. I only have the words of others for this.
There has been a row – not for the first time – between Ryan Moore and the media. In particular those who present and produce some of the TV coverage at race meetings. And a dispute between him and the Racing Post journalist Lee Mottershead.
It is best you read Ryan’s take on things via this column http://bit.ly/OUwOD6
In the hours after that article was published, there has been a lively exchange of opinion between Racing UK presenter Lydia Hislop, whose talents i admire almost as much as those of Moore, and other people in racing. Some jockeys, trainers and punters have come out in defence of Ryan via Twitter.
To say there is a divide between the racing media and jockeys would be an understatement. Yes, relations are better than they were ten years ago. Some of the more experienced, intelligent jockeys know how to be media friendly. Albeit sometimes with a grudging acceptance of the need to connect with those who watch the sport on TV.
There are many people in racing who could do with some media training. Not just jockeys and trainers. But they don’t believe they should have to speak to the increasing number of people who approach them with a camera, microphone or notepad.
I can see the argument from both sides. The busiest jockeys are so busy that they have little time between races to give interviews. Meanwhile, as i know only too well, broadcasting live is high pressure work and if you don’t get the interview with the winning jockey, viewers and the producer will ask why.
Or the jockey who has just had a fall. The time when the ubiquitous question “how do you feel?” actually does have a place in sports reporting.
My take has always been this. There are people in racing who call Ryan Moore a misery. And he may well be. Too many people tell me he can be rude for there not to be some truth in it.
Civility costs nothing so i would not agree with any jockey swearing at anyone who is simply trying to do their own job.
But Ryan is right. His job is to ride horses for owners and trainers. To win on them. He is not employed to be a wordsmith, comedian or to be able to switch on a smile for the camera.
The jockeys criticising the media know that there exists in their midst a man who is camera and media friendly. Until the camera is switched off that is.
That jockey can be rude. He does swear. But he understands that it is to the benefit of racing as a whole if its public image is one wear smiles outnumber sulks. So, like a performer, he turns it on for the cameras. In doing so he has done nothing but positively promote the sport.
Now Ryan Moore is never going to do that. And, frankly, why should he? I am a media man. Steeped in sports journalism and the production of televised sport. More often than i care to recall I have had to ask people who don’t want to give an interview, to do just that. Please. Pretty please.
It was my job. But there were many times when i understood why the person approached did not want to talk. I asked once. Maybe twice. Then i walked away and left it alone. You never get eloquent, entertaining or informative words from someone who doesn’t want to speak.
Today, on Twitter, some jockeys have backed Ryan Moore and attacked journalists Lydia Hislop and Lee Mottershead. Lydia has been very vocal on the social media site and i agree with some of what she has said.
Hywel Peterson has horses in training with some high profile trainers. He told me the following:- “Ryan rode for us a few seasons back. We found Ryan very professional and his post race feedback was very constructive – a good experience.”
Jockey William Kennedy told Lydia Hislop that the media should: “betray racing in a good light and not always look for the negative points”
Lydai responded to him thus: “I never understand this ‘portray racing in a good light’ guff. Racing is what it is. If it pretends otherwise, it’s stuffed.”
Reading the exchanges on Twitter it seems that, while some racing fans think Moore comes over as arrogant in that column, the majority support Ryan.
It is also clear that there is underlying resentment towards the media from many jockeys. Especially the younger ones, which is a little surprising. I would have thought they would have been more media friendly than their elders. I hope they are not going down the route of modern day footballers, too many of whom have perfected the art of snarling.
It has been said to me that it is people like me who, by one means or another, pay Ryan Moore’s wages. That without punters, and without those who subscribe to watch channels such as Racing UK, he wouldn’t have a job riding winners.
Lester Piggott, Joe Mercer, Willie Carson et al were great jockeys in the days before satellite television. They gave interviews when called upon to do so. Piggott was every bit as reluctant and monosyllabic as Moore.
My dad didn’t pay Piggott’s wages. I don’t pay Ryan Moore’s. Not really.
His employers do that. The people who hire him for his ability in the saddle, not in front of camera. If he doesn’t want to give interviews, he shouldn’t be made to feel he has to.
But he should always remember that it is possible to to politely decline. The interviewer cannot portray you as rude and difficult if your answer is: “No, sorry Lydia/Nick/Clare, it is kind of you to ask but I’m busy working right now, thank you very much for asking.”
My message to Ryan is this. Keep on riding the winners but, always remember, manners maketh a man.
My message to the media who have had enough of what they call his moody responses is this. Don’t be hypocritical. Remember the brush offs when one day, almost inevitably, he publishes his autobiography.