Ryan Moore: Kentucky Derby was the best day's racing I have ever experienced

Saturday's Kentucky Derby was a slog, but Ryan loved it

Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore reflects on his trip to Churchill Downs for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, an occasion he now ranks as the best day's racing of his life to date...

"And the horrendous weather just added to the sense of drama and theatre. It didn’t stop raining all day on the Saturday. And when I say rain, I mean proper relentless and hard rain. It was like a horseracing equivalent of Glastonbury, about ten times over."


I can honestly say that the Kentucky Derby at the weekend was the best day's racing I have ever experienced; it was different class, on another level to what I have seen, or been involved in, anywhere else around the globe.

They say that the Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation, and it's obviously a very big deal in Australia, but this was something else I can assure you. No comparison at all.

I went to watch the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill on the Friday. There were 70,000-odd there and I said to myself "how the hell are they going to fit another person in here tomorrow, let alone doubling the figure?"

So quite how they got 150,000+ through the gate on the Saturday is anyone's guess.

But it just shows you how popular the race and the occasion is. Even just trying to get around Louisville on Friday night proved nigh-on impossible; the place was rammed and every restaurant and bar you passed was full to bursting. I have never seen anything like it.

I have been lucky enough to ride in many top races around the globe - in real racing hotbeds like Australia, Hong Kong and Japan - but the sheer atmosphere and occasion around the Kentucky Derby was staggering. Every single person in the town was just consumed by the racing.

And the horrendous weather just added to the sense of drama and theatre. It didn't stop raining all day on the Saturday. And when I say rain, I mean proper relentless and hard rain. It was like a horseracing equivalent of Glastonbury, about ten times over.

Riding at the meeting - and it was the first time I have ridden in the race - was a real eye-opener, I can tell you. And I loved it.

Talking of eye-openers, I must have broken my own personal record as I wore seven pairs of goggles in the Derby, with a couple of layers of clingfilm for extra protection thrown in on two pairs for good measure, and used them all.

In truth, it probably wasn't as bad as I would feared it would be, but it was still fairly horrific out there. But all credit to Lines Of Battle, as he ran a very brave race to finish seventh.

You obviously prepare horses for the kickback at home, but you just can't replicate those kind of conditions.

They went so fast early, that he simply couldn't go the pace. And when you can't go the pace, you get the kickback. And there was plenty of it in those conditions, believe me. So it was a couple of furlongs before he got used to it, and was able to pick up the bridle. And then he started to run his race.

He took me into the race nicely from that stage, and then ran on well in the straight to finish seventh. Well, I say ran on, it was probably just more him passing beaten and tired horses as they went so quick from the start.

But he was brave and battled well in conditions that he clearly hasn't experienced before and I was happy with him; in the circumstances, I thought that he ran a very good race.

I hope that Lines Of Battle will go onto better things this season. But, in terms of pure occasion, I doubt if I will.


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