Former Flat jockey Eva Moscrop describes a frustrating time in the saddle and a post-racing journey that led her to open Newmarket’s newest independent café and community hub.
A frustrating first career
I grew up helping to run a working livery stables with clients and a small National Hunt yard with my family in Northumberland. Breeding, training and riding racehorses inspired my dream of being a pro jockey. However, while the hard work didn’t faze me, the lack of support received from trainers to get race rides was impactful.
During my career I rode in 160 races and won 12. I had a good strike rate, but I suffered numerous injuries and while this did not deter me, it ultimately proved to be too much of an issue. Having a long time off with injuries is very difficult, you become unfashionable, you’re forgotten about and you’re not race fit, just a little ring rusty.
These elements combined to bring me to a crossroads. I had to make some tough life choices. I was as fit as I could be without race-riding; I worked with my jockey coach Micky Tebbutt every day; I would not miss a day. I would be on the bike or in the gym and I would eat healthily just in case I picked up a ride; I wanted to be ready.
Months in between races and seeing others getting on well was so frustrating. I was angry, upset and depressed – I was a bad version of myself. My last ride was at Newcastle on a Good Friday. I drove myself; it took me 6.5 hours in bad traffic and it was stressful to get there. The mare I rode ran an average race and after that I said to myself that I have had enough.
I had an idea that if I was to embark on a new career, I would work for myself, where I could be self-determining. By owning my own business, I could ultimately control my own success. I wanted my hard work to equal achievement, where others wouldn’t be able to hold me back, and this was something I hoped would give me more satisfaction.
Inspired by the elegant eateries and coffee shops of London, I spotted a gap in the market in my now hometown of Newmarket for a trendy independent coffee/ café spot. I wanted a place with a sleek finish that was accessible for locals, with the best coffee and social scene. The thought of bringing my racing friends in to visit me in my new business was an added bonus. I would get to serve them great coffee and food; provide a place for them and keep up with all the racing news by maintaining my social connections. My plan was a place where all locals would feel welcome, enjoy great coffee in a casual yet elegant setting, and to which they would keep returning.
Realising my vision
Working hard all my life meant that being on my feet all day, organising and planning didn’t worry me. My life as a jockey stood me in good stead to work with focus and energy on this new concept. I jumped into this new idea and took a course in Cambridge to perfect my barista skills. I decided if I was going to run a coffee shop, it was going to be the best coffee shop!
Upskilling in accounting, technology, marketing and stock management gave me the confidence to move forward and realise my vision.
Support from racing’s community
I believe that my racing connections have helped me. JETS has been helpful – I won the IJF Richard Davis award last November, of which I am very proud. I have gained quite a lot of publicity from the award being in the local newspaper, the Newmarket Journal and the Racing Post.
Sometimes I look around and see my clients enjoying my shop and I feel proud of what I have managed to build. I know Newmarket was missing a nice place like mine and I am glad it is appreciated by the best and has become the social hub it is today. I get satisfaction from returning customers; when Tattersalls is on it’s nice that people remember the shop for its good coffee and menu, even though they are only in the country for a short amount of time.
Loyal customers from all over the world
I think I was most surprised by James Cummings from Australia visiting us during Royal Ascot week last year. He is a top bloke and I did a winter track-riding for him in Randwick years ago, which was very useful for my riding in the UK. He and his wife Monica became my good friends.
Some people in the shop look shocked when the likes of William & Maureen Haggas, Charlie Appleby, James Doyle and Luke Morris are here. I think Lester Piggott coming in on my second day of opening was brilliant. He is quite a character. Along with Anthony Bromley who we call the Emperor; he’s a top guy. We have loyalty cards, which you get stamped for every coffee you buy, and you gain a free coffee after a few. He loves a free coffee and collecting the stamps.