George Moore Australian Jockey
George Moore Would Average Nearly 70 Victories Per Season
The history of horse racing in Australia includes the exploits of a great jockey who retired from riding to enjoy a productive career as a trainer and devoted almost 50 years of his life to the sport of racing.
We are of course referring to George “Cotton Fingers” Moore, a man whose accomplishments could be distributed amongst many jockeys and trainers and leave them all feeling justly compensated for their efforts.
Moore was born in July of 1923 in the town of Mackay on the north coast of Queensland.
Apprenticed To Trainer Louis Dahl
He got his beginning as a race rider in 1938 whilst he was serving as an apprentice to trainer Louis Dahl.
Within five years of that beginning, George Moore had progressed to such a degree that he took home a jockeys’ premiership by 1943.
That performance convinced Moore to move to Sydney, where he continued to become a leading apprentice in the capital city for the remainder of 1943 and on into 1944.
George Moore was known as a rider who could get the most out of his mounts via what some described as an almost telepathic sense that allowed him to detect a horse’s abilities and form during a race through his soft hands, those hands responding to communicate directly with the horse regarding tactics from moment to moment.
That was the origin of “Cotton Fingers.” Moore was said to at times seem almost clairvoyant, able to know not only what his mount was doing and what it had in reserve, but also to be able to do the same for any competitors ahead of him that were soon to become the competitors behind him.
As a rider, Moore would average nearly 70 victories per season, all the more impressive given the number of events available at the time. He notched almost 2300 victories, with 119 of those coming at what would eventually come to be classified as Group 1 level races.
1946 Sydney Cup
George Moore’s first major victory came aboard Cordale when the two posted the win in the 1946 Sydney Cup.
Betwixt then and when he retired from the saddle in 1971, he accounted for no less than 26 of Australia’s most prestigious races. In his final season, at the age of 48, he won an almost unimaginable series that included the Doncaster Handicap, Australian Derby, AJC Oaks, Victoria Derby, Golden Slipper Stakes and the Newmarket Handicap.
Many a competent jockey would have considered those wins as proof of a productive career.
A thorough chronicle of his racing career would be an apt subject for entire books and far beyond the scope of this brief biography, but here are just a few of the impressive accomplishments of which he could brag if he had been the type.
On one occasion, George Moore had a four day run during the 1969 Easter carnival at Randwick where he competed in 29 races and won no fewer than 15 of them. This was done to top his accomplishment from several years earlier when he took 11 wins in a similar four day span in the Spring Racing Carnival of 1964.
5 Wins In A Day On 4 Occasions
He was to make riding five winners in one day seem almost pedestrian by doing that on four separate occasions, two of these occurring at Randwick that came with 12 years separating them.
George Moore’s name will forever be linked with that of Tulloch, for the time when the two combined for 19 victories.
He took the award for top jockey in 1957 and again in 1958. He went overseas for a while, and then returned to Australia in 1962, where he proceeded to win an additional 8 premierships, adding the last to that string in 1969.
Moore’s career, however, despite these mind-boggling feats, did not want for a taste of controversy.
George Moore Suspended For 2 Years
George Moore was stripped of his jockey’s license for over two years, the result of his ownership of a horse named Flying East. Moore was caught for backing the horse in a win that came whilst Moore was aboard another horse.
The messy details of the incident included claims that Flying East was in reality owned by Moore’s father-in-law, but that plea fell on deaf steward ears and resulted in Moore being suspended for two and a half years.
Then there was the time Moore got into a serious jockeys’ room altercation with Athol Mulley. Apparently, Mulley, who had established quite a reputation for shenanigans, tried to get under Moore’s skin by storing his gear in Moore’s stall. Mulley succeeded to the extent that Moore thrashed him quite thoroughly about the head and shoulders, resulting in a fine being levied against both men.
Even T. J. Smith was often the target of verbal abuse delivered by Moore.
The final chapter of woe that distinguished his career is that despite notching almost 2300 wins, Moore was never to taste the satisfaction of winning either the Caulfield or the Melbourne Cup, which is quite difficult to fathom, but true nonetheless.
George Moore’s last victory as a hoop came in 1971 when he combined with Classic Mission to claim the 1971 Victoria Derby. He then served a 13 season stint as a trainer in Hong Kong, where he managed no fewer than 11 trainers’ premierships.
He returned to Australia in 1985, now completely retired from racing and comfortably ensconced at Gold Coast.
Order Of The British Empire
The Order of the British Empire was granted him immediately following his retirement from riding. Recognition in the form of a 1986 induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame was followed by his 2001 inclusion in the inaugural class of jockeys to the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
He has been further commemorated by the George Moore Medal, annually awarded to Sydney’s champion jockey.
He died in Sydney on 8 January 2008 after succumbing to a prolonged illness.
In the case of one George “Cotton Fingers” Moore, it is interesting to speculate how his final figures as a jockey may have escalated had he not been warned off for two and a half years for his involvement in the Flying East affair.
Given his career average, it is reasonable to project that he could have added another 140 victories to his total, including six or seven equivalent to Group 1 status, and possibly even have captured those elusive Caulfield and Melbourne Cups that somehow managed to escape his grasp.