Moor returns to Australia in wake of Kranji COVID-19-induced racing hiatus

Daniel Moor is the first expatriate jockey to return home as a result of the recent COVID-19 “Circuit Breaker” which led to the temporary suspension of racing at Kranji.

Countofmontecristo winning the MERLION TROPHY
Countofmontecristo winning the MERLION TROPHY Picture: Singapore Turf Club

Like all local racing participants, the Australian hoop was left shellshocked when the dreaded news that have been circulating at the Friday night races were officially confirmed the next day.

In a bid to stem the observed resurgence of the highly contagious epidemic, the Singapore authorities have imposed a one-month closure of all workplaces except for essential services, effective from Tuesday.

After weathering the storm for almost one month (races held with temperature-taking, controlled crowds, then no crowds), the Singapore Turf Club had no other choice but to comply with the latest advisory, and interrupt all racing activities until May 4.

With a young family of four and no more income (jockeys earn their stipend from riding fees and stakes money) for at least one month, Moor was in a terrible quandary.

He loves Singapore, both for its attractive racing and lifestyle, but the reality is his rice bowl was gone on one end, and on the other end, back home, Australia (bar Tasmania) was one of the rare racing jurisdictions in the world still pressing on, albeit behind closed doors.

After discussing with his wife Lauren and weighing up his options, which even though none of which were clear-cut or foolproof amid those unprecedented global times of fear and uncertainty, Moor heartbreakingly decided to pull the pin on his two-year Singapore stint.

"It was a very difficult decision to make. You can be sure it wasn't one that I made hastily," he said.

"With no racing and no income for one month, it's too tough to try and sustain especially with me as I've also got a family here.

"No doubt, we all hope racing can return on May 4, but these are uncertain times, and it was too risky to wait until then to find out. It was even tougher considering I was licensed till the end of the year, but unfortunately, I was finding myself pushed in a corner.

"We can go through our reserves, but the waiting time might stretch even longer. I reckon we could have lasted one month, but it was too daunting a prospect if racing doesn't resume by then.

"I'm lucky that racing is still going on back home. As an Australian, the costs involved would also be less, whether it's for general costs of living, healthcare and schooling for my two kids."

Moor said he had not really touched base with his existing network of trainers or owners in Victoria, where he hails from and has ridden all his life before he moved to Singapore in 2018, but was confident he would slot back in without too much hassle.

"I did go back last December (during the Christmas break) and enjoyed my time then. So, it's not like I've been out of sight, out of mind," he said.

"We race seven days a week back home, and as long as you work hard, there will be a lot of opportunities. Once I reach home and serve my 14-day quarantine, I should be ready to start riding."

All-up, the 35-year-old has won 48 races in his two years at Kranji, and is packing two trophies in his suitcase, the Group 3 Fortune Bowl (1400m) with Blizzard and the Group 2 Merlion Trophy (1200m) with Countofmontecristo , both captured last year, no doubt his best season when he knocked in 24 winners to finish ninth on the log.

While Moor may leave with a sense of unfinished business, he can take pride on his journey at a place he had always wanted to ride in.

The lightweight jockey might not have attracted the same level of support as the big guns like Vlad Duric, Michael Rodd and Benny Woodworth, but to be fair, his score could have exceeded 50 had he not been stymied by suspensions and injury, not to mention his recent enforced holiday through a 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) after returning from an English holiday to catch the famous Cheltenham races.

As a result, Moor, who had just two winners (Siam Blue Vanda and Buuraq) on the board this season, was stood down on Siam Blue Vanda in the second Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge, the Group 2 Stewards' Cup (1600m), and we know the rest. The Thai-owned Michael Clements-trained galloper won with A'Isisuhairi Kasim standing in.

Still, the 750-odd race winner looks back fondly on a Singapore stint that began with a few hit-and-run visits in 2017, during which time he opened his account with Skywalk at the last meeting on December 3.

"I've had a great time in Singapore. My most memorable day would have to be a dead-heat between my first win on Skywalk and the Group 2 win on Countofmontecristo," he said.

"I've also made some great friends here in the last two years or so. I've personally contacted all the trainers who supported me and they've all been very receptive and understanding of my situation.

"In the meantime, I can only wish everybody well and hope they all stay at home and stay safe. Hopefully, when this is all over and racing returns, I can come back one day as I'd really love to come back."

Singapore Turf Club