A perfectionist whose legacy is of 'immeasurable significance'
Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges yesterday hailed the George Moore legacy, warmly remembering the greatest trainer of Hong Kong racing's professional era for a contribution that was of 'immeasurable significance'.
Engelbrecht-Bresges said Moore, who died on Tuesday night in Sydney aged 84, had been a man that he knew of long before they actually met as Moore's reputation as an outstanding horseman, a champion of his craft and a driven perfectionist preceded him.
'Even as a European, I knew about the greatness of George Moore as a jockey in Australia and I admired him greatly for having the courage to come to Europe in the late 1960s to prove himself there,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
'He was the king in Australia and could have earned any amount of money as the champion jockey of Sydney but he was driven by more than money. He had a passion for excellence, he wanted to prove himself on a world stage, and indeed he did.
'I would call George Moore the first world ambassador of racing.'
The chief executive said the Jockey Club had been 'extremely fortunate' in the first year of professional racing (1972) to attract such a big international name as George Moore to move to Hong Kong to start his training career, having retired from riding after winning the Victoria Derby on Classic Mission in late 1971.
'This was a great coup for Hong Kong racing, and we can now see in historical terms exactly what it meant for us,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'Not only did George Moore win 11 trainers' premierships and many major races, but his time here had enormous legacy value.
'That drive for excellence, that perfectionist attitude, has been passed on to his son John, who himself has won five titles as champion trainer and has been our leading trainer in feature races for the past two seasons. I'm also sure that many local trainers, especially in the earlier years, learned a lot about horsemanship just from watching a champion like George Moore at work.'
George Moore's second son, Gary, was seven times Hong Kong's champion jockey and also rode successfully in France, emulating his father by winning an Arc de Triomphe on Gold River in 1981. Gary has won two titles as leading trainer in Macau.
John Moore, who is the leading Hong Kong trainer of all time, on 992 wins, used the same term to describe his father - perfectionist.
'He was a perfectionist and had enormous attention to detail,' John Moore said yesterday. 'He didn't accept defeat easily and was always striving to do better, to set the bar higher.'
The statistics on George Moore's professional life make incredible reading. He won 2,278 races, including 119 Group One races, in Australia alone. He was 10 times champion jockey of Sydney and formed a partnership with 34-times champion trainer Tommy Smith that has never been matched.
In Hong Kong, he trained 721 winners, leaving him in third place overall behind son John, and the now-retired Brian Kan Ping-chee (844).
A former race-day rival on horseback in Australia, Geoff Lane, ultimately rode for him in Hong Kong in the early to mid 1970s.
'He was a tough, hard professional on the track but back in the jockeys' room, it was a different story, we got along very well,' Lane, now training in Macau, said yesterday.
'He was a great reader of a race and had supreme patience. If you wanted to win a race, you needed to follow George Moore because that was your best chance of being in the right spot and being taken into the race by the best jockey. I liked George as a man, and as a racing professional.'
John Moore said his father was such an icon in Australian racing that a public funeral was the only option for the family. 'It will give those that loved him a chance to farewell him the proper way, and for those that didn't love him, well, you can be pretty sure that at least he had their respect,' Moore said.