Not many current residents of Scone and district know that one of Australia’s greatest ever jockeys was a Scone local for several years. George Moore and his spouse Iris owned the famed Yarraman Park Stud from the late 1950s until selling to the incumbent Mitchell family in 1968. Lou Symons was the resident manager. Sarah and I actually purchased a portion of the farm in 1976. We moved into the house formerly occupied by the manager. It was a fortuitous acquisition for us.
George Moore and manager Lou had a close association with Pat Burke of the eponymous Tamworth Stock and Station Agency; Burke Blanche & Smyth. There are some apocryphal stories concerning livestock transactions mainly involving large mobs of sheep which may or may not be true. In the year I arrived in Australia (1967) George Moore had won the Epsom Derby Classic on ‘Royal Palace’ for Newmarket UK Trainer Noel Murless in June. It was quite a pleasant surprise to actually meet him at Yarraman Park later that same year. Mustering, yarding and drafting a mob of cattle seemed a very far cry from Epsom Downs and Royal Ascot! Both George and Lou were very busy in the dry dusty yards and seemed to argue over everything. They were both fiery characters. I think Lou definitely preferred it when George was riding in England?
George Moore was well known in Kelly Street, Scone. Not all the business houses bowed to the will of the famous small man with the rather extravagant ego. It was rumored he was refused service at the very first private supermarket in Scone when he attempted to establish an account. It was a cash only business. George was unimpressed! It was a case of ‘walk out and stand-off’ between two determined alpha male personalities. On another occasion a wild rumor had very rapidly reverberated around Scone that my boss Murray Bain had been involved in a ‘punch up’ with a Stud Manager near Denman (True). George met Murray in Kelly Street later that same day. ‘Don’t hit me. Don’t hit me. I’m only a little bloke’ was George’s immediate response when covering up. ‘Cheeky bastard’ said Murray!
Two local Scone jockeys have just told me (July 2020) they both rode trackwork with George Moore. Tommy Ollerton said George used to ride in Sydney on Saturdays; and then come back to Yarraman Park during the week. In order to fulfill his jockey’s license obligations he rode horses for Eric Flett at White Park racecourse in Scone two mornings a week. Tommy was apprenticed to Eric in the early 1960s. Jimmy Ollerton’s story was different; as stories often are in Chris Winter’s Barber Shop! Jimmy was apprenticed to Fred Allsop at Randwick. Jimmy often crossed paths with George on the training tracks if not during races. My good friend Lesley Picken (nee Allsop, Fred’s daughter) was able to confirm this today (27/07/2020).
George Thomas Donald Moore OBE (5 July 1923 – 8 January 2008) was an Australian jockey and Thoroughbred horse trainer. He began his career in racing in 1939 in Brisbane where he quickly became one of the top apprentice jockeys and where in 1943 he won the Senior Jockeys’ Premiership. He then relocated to Sydney and in 1949 went to work for trainer Tommy J. Smith (also known as T.J. Smith) with whom he would have considerable success.
In 1950, at the invitation of Johnny Longden, Moore traveled to the United States where he won the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar Racetrack. In 1957 and 1958 George Moore won the Jockeys’ Premiership at Sydney then in 1959 accepted an offer to ride in Europe for trainer/owner Alec Head of Haras du Quesnay and another major owner, Prince Aly Khan. There, he won the Prix du Jockey Club and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, as well as a British Classic Race, the 2,000 Guineas. Returning to Sydney, Moore continued to win Jockeys’ Premierships and in 1967 returned for a time to compete in Europe for trainer Noel Murless where he won the first three 1967 British Classics, the 1,000 Guineas, a second 2,000 Guineas, and his biggest win of all in British racing, the 1967 Epsom Derby on Royal Palace.
In Australia, George Moore won numerous of the country’s top races and was the jockey aboard Tulloch for nineteen of the Hall of Fame horse’s thirty-six wins. He retired from riding in 1971 having won 312 metropolitan stakes and a record 119 Group I races. He then turned his talents to training, first in France, then in Australia and for thirteen seasons in Hong Kong where, between 1973 and 1985, he won the training premiership eleven times.
George Moore retired to the Gold Coast after the 1985 racing season He died in Sydney on 8 January 2008.
Moore was one of the most honoured men in Australian Thoroughbred racing history. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1972 and in 1986 was inducted into the newly created Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
In 2000 he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal “for outstanding commitment to Thoroughbred Racing”. Moore was part of the 2001 inaugural class inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. In 2007, Australia Post placed his image on a postage stamp as part of its Australian Legends series.
In 2009 Moore was inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame.
A racing family
George Moore’s sister married jockey Garnet Bougoure. George’s eldest son, John, worked as his assistant before going out on his own. John Moore carved out a successful career, winning five training titles in Hong Kong and in 2005 broke Brian Kan’s record for most career wins by a trainer in Hong Kong racing. Recently he received international attention as the trainer of the world-ranked Viva Pataca.
Another son, Gary W. Moore, was a successful jockey who won seven Hong Kong riding championships. He also rode in Europe where his wins included the 1981 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Gold River. In 1988, he rode the filly Ravinella to victory in the British Classic, the 1,000 Guineas, plus the French Poule d’Essai des Pouliches. Like his father, Gary Moore also turned to training after his riding career was over and in Taipa has twice won the Hong Kong Macau Trophy as champion trainer.
George Moore’s youngest child, Michele Ann Moore, married Peter Leyshan, who was a Sydney-based jockey apprenticed to TJ Smith. George took Peter with him to Hong Kong, where he was very successful, always finishing in the top 3. He won the Gold Coast Racing Club’s riding title in 1992 and 1993. After his riding career was over, he too turned to training. In 1996 Peter Leyshan took out a trainer’s licence with the Macau Jockey Club, and has won the Hong Kong Macau Trophy, Macau Derby, Gold Cup & most of the big races in Macau as a Macau champion trainer.