Jamie Moore will never get over the pain of last year’s Cheltenham Festival but what has happened to him and his family in the last 12 months has put his experience into perspective.
The moment he was catapulted out of the saddle at the last with his mount Goshen heading to certain victory in the Triumph Hurdle was the enduring image of the meeting.
His heart-breaking trudge, head bowed, back to the weighing room as Sir Anthony McCoy put a consolatory arm around him was painful to watch. It is why many will root for Goshen and Moore in Tuesday’s Unibet Champion Hurdle.
Jamie Moore has opened up on a difficult 12 months following last year’s Cheltenham Festival
When you know the whole story there will be plenty more hoping Goshen can deliver a happy ending for Moore and the horse trained by his father Gary and owned by Steve Packham.
It was during Cheltenham Festival week when Moore’s wife Lucie found a lump which led to gruelling chemotherapy for breast cancer that thankfully has been successful. Then during her treatment, Moore broke his back in a fall at Fontwell in August which briefly left the jockey fearful for his career and ultimately with two rods inserted from the T3 to T7 vertebra.
Moore, 36, said: ‘What Lucie has been through is something that kills me. I can barely talk about it. I’ve been with her since I was 15. She’s a 35-year-old girl. She’s healthy, fit and to get breast cancer was terrible. It has been hard, so with the Goshen thing it did make me realise that life is more important.
The 36-year-old was unseated as he was heading towards a certain victory on Gold Cup day
The 36-year-old was subjected to a torrent of abuse on social media following the unseating
‘She found the lump in Festival week and she had it removed at the end of April. It’s all good now but any girl that goes through chemo, they’re heroes. I know everyone goes on about the NHS, but those cancer nurses are phenomenal.
‘I had to drop Lucie off at East Grinstead hospital and I couldn’t be by her side because of the Covid stuff. She just had to go in and every chemo session, she was on her own. That has been hard, but my mum and dad, and family around us, they’ve been brilliant.
‘When I had the [back injury] fall they wanted to take me to Chichester Hospital but I said, “Lucie’s in Brighton [Hospital], so get me down there”. She had come out of her chemo session to see me, just to show her I was all right.
‘When I first did it, it did cross my mind I might be in trouble. I broke my sternum. That was clicking and hurting and I had pins and needles in my hands and feet. I was a bit worried then the doctor said, “Once the rods are in, it should be fine”.’
As for the Goshen unseating, while it had left no physical injury, it did open the floodgates to a torrent of attacks on social media.
Moore suffered personal heartache after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last year
The jockey also broke his spine but is now hopeful of a bounce back at this year’s Festival
Moore, who shares the rides at his father’s Sussex stable with brother Josh, while older sibling Ryan is the three-time champion Flat jockey, said: ‘I got barrels of abuse. Some wanted me to get coronavirus or wished I had broken my neck or legs. I still get it every day of the week now. If a footballer falls over in a game, I’ll be to blame! That’s the modern world, isn’t it?’
Festival winners may arrive on a conveyor belt for Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins but for most jockeys and trainers they are rare commodities. Moore has had just one — in the 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase on his father’s Sire De Grugy.
From the sport there was sympathy directed over Goshen, which included an email from a Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer who now lives in America. Moore added: ‘We probably got more emails than if we’d won. Michael Dickinson emailed us, and a trainer from up north wrote a letter to me — never said who it was — about the horse. I still don’t know who it is now!
‘The owners of Burning Victory, who won the race, also sent a letter to the office. So many people in racing were very kind. There was a hell of a lot of support. I’d still rather have won the race, though.
‘I don’t think I’ll get over it. It’s always going to be there, just b******s. If it had happened in a normal race, you’d be gutted but because it’s a Grade One, you don’t get chances in those races often.’
What did for Moore was a freak moment when Goshen’s back hoof clipped his front hoof, causing a second momentum-changing movement. Without it, Moore would have had a chance of keeping the partnership intact, 10 lengths clear.
Goshen ran disappointingly when beaten in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, a minor heart issue seen as the reason for the performance. But a 22-length victory over Song For Someone at Wincanton last month was a dramatic return to form.
Goshen looked back to his mighty best and he is 4-1 for the Champion Hurdle behind last year’s winner Epatante and dual Irish Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle.
Moore added: ‘I’ve got huge respect for everything in the race, and we could get stuffed, but when he’s on song he looks unbeatable. I don’t know his limitations.’