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18 February 2022

The most memorable viral image of Hayley Moore is her expert snatch and grab of a loose horse at Chepstow in 2018, but the rider turned TV presenter has seized the opportunities the sport offered and wants others to do the same.

Lucky. The word I’ve chosen to describe my life. I will always be grateful to have horseracing and to have grown up in this industry. 

My Grandfather, Charlie Moore, trained racehorses, almost by accident really. He was at the horse sales and he scratched his head, next thing he’d bought a horse at auction! Originally, he was a second-hand car salesman and a huge character. He started training racehorses at an old pig farm in Brighton, the city where I grew up. I was lucky to have known him for 12 years of my life. I spent a lot of time with my Grandparents growing up. My Nan always spoilt us. 

Juggling school and a love of racing

My father Gary became a jockey, and my mother Jayne was a schoolteacher and rode as an amateur jockey for a few years successfully. My dad is now a successful trainer and he followed in the footsteps of Grandad. Going into racing was never forced upon us, we all chose to go down that route. My two older brothers, Ryan and Jamie, my younger brother, Josh and I would always have the enjoyment of ponies in our lives growing up. 

At 16, I had my first ride at Brighton racecourse in the afternoon having sat my English GCSE exam that morning. Thankfully, the horse won and I passed my exam, too. I was lucky enough to enjoy a rewarding amateur riding career, winning the prestigious ladies race at Ascot a couple of times. My ambition was to get selected to take part in the ‘Fergentri’ series where you ride around the world and represent Great Britain against fellow amateur riders. I got that experience, and it was a lot of fun; the highlights were making new, lifelong friends and getting to ride at the final in Mauritius. 

A first look behind the scenes

During work experience when I was 14, I got to see behind the scenes at Attheraces (the channel that was replaced by Sky Sport’s Racing) and I went there to work after I had finished my A-Levels. I started out making the tea, then became a production assistant. It was a cool experience working in a live gallery while we were covering the live action. I learnt so much and enjoyed being part of the team.

I then became involved in riding out a beautiful horse my dad was training called Mourilyan and the opportunity came up to take him to Australia to run in the Melbourne Cup. I loved being in charge of such a talented horse. The chance to travel with good horses came up so I handed in my notice at Attheraces to my then boss, George Irvine, who wished me all the best with my future, and he fully understood my desire to travel. It’s another opportunity that this global sport offers.

When I’d finished globetrotting, I came back to England and got opportunities to start presenting. Starting out working for racecourses on their big days was a real privilege, too and I enjoyed being involved. Full circle back to Sky Sports Racing, but instead of being the one doing the counting in the presenter’s ear, I was getting the counts before being cued, which was pretty cool.

Magical moments 

I love heading off to either the Sky studios or on course and being involved in telling the story of the day’s racing. You never know what excitement may come about. Sometimes the mid-week, lesser racing, serves up some wonderful results and super stories and then being there on the bigger, history-making days to see legendary horses of our game is just amazing.

One of my favourite days attending the races came when my older brother Ryan rode the winner of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot for Her Majesty the Queen with Estimate. I was heading up to Redcar to ride in a ladies’ race, which is a long way to travel from Sussex. I had a call to say the ground was too firm, so my horse wasn’t running. I turned around and headed straight to my favourite racecourse to cheer home my brother. Seeing The Queen being presented with the trophy herself that she normally presents to winning connections at her own racecourse was special! It was presented by her husband the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Seeing her celebrating in the Royal Box was brilliant and the smile on Ryan’s face in conversation with The Queen on the winner’s podium made me smile so much. 

Best and worst of times

One of my best days was when I got to interview a dear friend whose horse won, that brought tears to my eyes. We didn’t think Stevie would make it after a very bad stroke, so when his horse came home in front and he attended the races that day, I was so happy and grateful for that moment in my life. When I had to pick up the microphone and do the post-race analysis, I started to cry live on air which was a little embarrassing!

My toughest day at work came when I was in my usual role as on course reporter at my local track, Plumpton and my younger brother Josh had a nasty fall. I learned quickly that he was very badly injured. He had been knocked out and broken his back. Times like that are so tough and trying to carry on can be a huge challenge. Thankfully, I work with a lot of very supportive people at Sky Sports Racing and their understanding and kindness shines through. After surgery in October 2021, he was back in the winner’s enclosure this month. I admire his drive and dedication to come back and so soon. When he rode his first winner back, I was literally jumping with joy and punching the air, again I was feeling grateful for that day. The emotions of horseracing! It’s never a dull sport.

Sport has much to offer

I feel it is very important to engage new people and the next generation for our sport’s future. To enable it to flourish and be healthy then we must show the attraction to school children. Horses offer so much to many different people, no matter what stage of their lives or the circumstances in which they live. 

A good example would be my friend Stevie Fisher, again. Stevie was a world class farrier and I met him on the South East point-to-point circuit. He is a real character and a man who really lived life to the full. He shod my dad’s best jump horse and Champion Chaser, Sire De Grugy and Stevie loves following horseracing. Sadly, after a stroke in his late 40s he was left with locked in syndrome. His mind is as sharp as it’s ever been and his brilliant sense of humour is still there, which is now communicated via his eye gaze that is the only way he can speak: through the computer like Steven Hawking did. Sadly, he cannot move any part of his body anymore which means his quality of life is limited. He is completely paralysed. However, he has his love of racing to keep him interested every day. There is a reason for him to look forward to something and bring him joy. 

Racing is a sport that gives so much enjoyment, you can appreciate seeing beautiful equine athletes that are cared for so well. Horses in general can have a huge impact on a person; the bond that can be created can give someone a real sense of purpose and I feel they can be therapeutic to be around, be it riding them or just being with them. 

Share the benefits, reap the rewards

This is why having important initiatives like Autism in Racing, Take The Reins and Racing to School are all so vital to have in our industry to make horses and horseracing accessible to people who might normally be quite removed from such opportunities. We need them to get the message out there and gather engagement. I have been lucky. I have had ponies when I was young and horses growing up, every day I get to be around these kind animals to enjoy the benefits they offer. If we don’t have important charities set-up to help people in need then it can become difficult for link ups to take place. 

I’ve worked with lots of different people in my dad’s racing stables that didn’t have much independence or found it hard to find a job but they have excelled in the environment and become valued members of our team. They understand the horses and thrive in the workplace. The development of the individual is remarkable, too. They become confident, happy and mature. They fit in somewhere and earn a living and take pride in their work. They are incredibly important in the work force. They get responsibility, a routine and can learn something new and fun. There is also strong support across the industry.

Hopefully we can share the enjoyment of being involved in racing, whether you own several of your own racehorses or a small share in a syndicate, you become a part of something. Or the pleasure of being involved in a yard and working within the industry. Or having something to look forward to and follow each day which gives you enjoyment. Racing offers up so much to many, and I am eternally grateful to be involved and to have it in my life for many different reasons. There is never a dull day. I am never bored. I also earn a living from something I love doing and the horses are my therapy. 

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