Ryan Moore faces ultimate global weekend commute from Sydney to the Curragh

Frankie Dettori continues Irish farewell as he steps in for ride on Cherry Blossom in Saturday’s Goffs Million

There’s proof that racing inhabits its own singular sporting ecosystem this weekend with Ryan Moore’s remarkable commute.

The English jockey turned 40 this week and celebrated en-route to Australia where he’s due to ride the Coolmore star Shinzo in a Group One contest at the Rosehill track in Sydney on Saturday morning (7.00 Irish-time.)

Moore landed Australia’s biggest two-year-old prize, the Golden Slipper, on Sinzo in March, and substitutes for the injured James McDonald on the colt once again for the AUS $1 million Golden Rose Stakes.

There’ll be no lingering afterwards as Moore faces into a 23-hour flight from the other side of the world in time to ride four horses for Aidan O’Brien at the Curragh on Sunday. It’s a gruelling schedule that practically any other athlete would struggle to comprehend although Moore’s status as a big-race option capable of delivering practically anywhere in the world is unmatched.


Closer to home Moore’s Australian expedition means Frankie Dettori has been drafted in to ride three for Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle team at HQ on Saturday.

Rather like the Rolling Stones fielding queries about whether or not it really is The Last Time, the Irish leg of Dettori’s farewell tour before retirement at the end of the year shows no signs of stopping. Given a rousing goodbye at the Irish Champions Festival, Dettori is back at the Curragh just a fortnight later with another upcoming gig at Bellewstown this Wednesday.

The Italian rode at the Co Meath course in last year’s inaugural Barney Curley Charity Cup but will fill a more ceremonial role next week, captaining one team of seven riders against a Willie Mullins captained side in an event that raises for money for Curley’s Direct Aid of Africa charity.

Last year’s event raised over €200,000, a sum that pales in comparison to the riches on offer at the Curragh this weekend.

Europe’s richest two-year-old race, Saturday’s Goffs Million, is even worth considerably more than the million billed with another €232,000 on top due to surplus entry fees and sponsorship.

Sunday sees a second edition of the dramatically boosted Friends of the Curragh Irish Cesarewitch, a race worth a relatively meagre €80,000 in 2021 but once again worth €600,000 thanks to its private backers. With much of the country braced for next month’s budget, and the prospect of an expensive winter, such bloated prize funds will strike some as other evidence of racing’s own ecology.

Saturday’s Million has 23 runners that were catalogued at last year’s Goffs Orby Sale. The sponsors are doubling down on the restricted contest for next week’s edition of Ireland’s premier yearling sale with plans for a pair of races restricted to its graduates in 2024 worth €1.5 million in all.

Last year’s winner Galeron produced something of a fairytale result with the €45,000 purchase carrying the silks of plumber by trade Gary Robinson.

Dettori’s presence in the contest will be enough for many to suspect no such fairytale outcome is in store this time as he teams up with the Ballydoyle filly Cherry Blossom.

Runner up in York’s Lowther last time, the filly carries the colours of the Westerberg operation owned by Georg Von Opel, a great grandson of the founder of the German car manufacturer. Cherry Blossom is the sole runner with a triple-digit official rating.

A fortnight after just four runners lined up in the Irish Leger, a maximum field of 30 – plus three reserves – are in the mix for the Cesarewitch which is capped at horses with a 110-rating or lower. Ballydoyle landed a memorable victory in the race last year with Waterville under an inspired Waye Lordan spin and they rely on just one runner to try and follow it up.

Moore will be back in time to team up with last weekend’s St Leger fourth Tower Of London who has topped most ante-post lists this week.

Willie Mullins has a six shots at the big pot, while his nephew Emmet looks to have a major contender in Teed Up. The second reserve Brazil will also have followers if getting in.

An each-way alternative could be Hms Seahorse who didn’t fire in this race a year ago but is slightly lower in the racing this time and has Scott McCullagh’s valuable 3lb claim to boot.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column