Colin Moore Aiming to be Oldest Winner of Newmarket Town Plate – at 80

By Graham Clark

The possibility of a place in the history books might beckon for rider Colin Moore – aged 80 – in the Newmarket Town Plate next Saturday 27th August, but he knows whatever the outcome he is already on to a winner when inspirational grandson Ralph greets him after the historic contest.

Remaining as enthusiastic as ever, the former Jump jockey admits it would mean “everything” if he could become the oldest rider to win the race, which will be run in memory of former trainer Julie Cecil, following a difficult few months.


Back in February the passionate amateur, who rode his sole winner over jumps aboard 50/1 chance Son Of Tam at Worcester in November 1961, became a granddad for the third time when his youngest son Alex, and wife Sam, welcomed Ralph into the world. 

However, on Tuesday 8th February Ralph was taken to the Countess Of Chester Hospital to receive treatment for high-level jaundice, but his condition began to deteriorate and he was transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital with a suspected heart problem.

After spending several days on a ventilator on the intensive care unit at the Liverpool-based hospital Ralph was finally allowed to go home on Saturday 10th February when his heart scan came back clear where it was discovered he was fighting an infection.

As a mark of thanks for the work carried out by the staff Moore is now aiming to raise £500 from his latest efforts in the saddle in the amateur rider contest, which was inaugurated in 1666, to help enable the hospital to continue their good work. 

Moore said: “I’ve already got two granddaughters but my first grandson arrived this year, however he was very poorly for the first few weeks when he was born. 

“Ralph was born in Chester which is near where Alex, my youngest son and Sam, his wife live. He came home for the first few days but then he went into hospital at Chester with jaundice, however they thought he had something up with his heart. 

“It was quite upsetting, as they said to Alex and Sam go home and get clothes as you will have to stay there and he was transferred off in a little oxygen tent on his own by the North West and North Wales Paediatric Transport Service from Chester to Liverpool. 

“They stayed in there for a few days as he was quite serious with his condition as he was on a ventilator in intensive care. Thankfully he now he is fine and he will be there on Saturday which is great.

“The team there did a great job and I just felt like I wanted to help them and hopefully I can raise a few pounds doing this. His ordeal has definitely helped act as an inspiration for doing this year’s race.

“He is now six months old and he is a big bonny lad now so I don’t think he will be a jockey but it will be nice for him to carry the name on.”


When it comes to fitness Moore has made sure he has left no stone unturned ahead of getting the leg up on Ballyrath in the unique event which was inaugurated by King Charles II in 1666, who remains the sole monarch to win the race.

Moore, who will also be raising cash for The Injured Jockeys’ Fund, added: “I’ve been riding out a hell of a lot at Gary Hanmer’s where Ballyrath is now based. I’ve been riding up to six lots a day and in that heat a few weeks ago it was a bit of a killer. 

“Apart from riding I have an exercise bike and I go out on the road bike as well while I do a little of bit of weight training as well. 

“Everything has been going well on the bike except for when I went out on the road bike about the other weekend. 

“There is one big hill I go up, I got round that, then I got into the next village a mile and a half from home then I got a puncture so I had to walk back with it!”


Ballyrath, like Moore, might now be in the twilight of his career at the age of 12 but he already has one win to his name this year after making his first start under rules for 960 days a triumphant one when springing a 66/1 shock at Wetherby back in January. 

Despite Moore believing the change in distance of this year’s race, which is being staged over two miles one furlong opposed to its traditional distance of three and three quarter miles due to watering restrictions, could go against him, he feels he is no forlorn hope if in the right frame of mind.

He added: “He won at Wetherby back in January with Tabitha (Worsley) on him. I had a feeling he would get a place so I backed him at 40/1 each-way then I backed him at 66/1 to win. He seems to like Wetherby as it is his sort of track. 

“We are going to have to be up near the pace on Saturday in the Town Plate with it being only two mile one this year.

“Hopefully we will get a few cart off down to the start to use up some of their energy! He is really well at the moment however and he will probably go back to Wetherby after this.

“The odds are probably against him now with it going to two miles one as he is a good stayer but if he turns up thinking I fancy it he will go close if he is in the other mood he won’t.”


Having spent the past week re-charging his batteries for the Town Plate with a short break to Monaco it has given Moore the chance to think how he would celebrate if securing victory next weekend, and he revealed that tears of joy could well be seen.

“I think I’d be quite emotional and I probably cry if I did win what with Ralph being there and with it being on old Ballyrath, who has been an absolute cracker for us,” added Moore.

“Lester Piggott was my absolute idol but he wouldn’t show any emotion apart from smile a bit, and I’d definitely do more than that. 

“Everybody is totally behind me and a lot of Gary’s owners want to support the Injured Jockeys’ Fund.”

Having previously hinted that this year’s race would be his last appearance in it Moore is not ruling out return to the contest the 2023 after revealing he has another horse waiting in the wings if he decides to give it another crack.

Moore said: “I’m not sure about riding in it after this year we will have to see as 80 is a nice round number. If I do it will be on our other horse Daranova and I think he would go very close as he is only eight.

“I do think I’m a bit of a freak that I can still do this but although I packed up race riding I never really stopped as I’ve always been riding out somewhere even when I went into the reinforced concrete business after racing.

“I do sometimes think why am I doing it because of my age but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t feel right. There will be a time and a day when I do say no but I still get a buzz out of it, even riding work.”

To make a donation to either charity, go to (for Alder Hey) and (for The Injured Jockeys’ Fund).

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