There aren’t too many people who love the Moonee Valley Racing Club as much as life member Michael Moore.
Moore first came to The Valley with his father in the 1940s and has been a 56-year member since signing up in the 1959/60 season.
He has many fond memories of his time spent at his favourite metropolitan racetrack and loves coming back at any opportunity.
“The Valley really looks after the 50-year members and we’re very appreciative of how they look after the life members – there’s only about 20 of us.”
Moore’s first great memory of The Valley came in 1961 when his horse Lasso won the Belinda Handicap on January 7, paying a handsome 25-1.
Riding Lasso that day was Hall of Fame jockey Ron Hutchinson, and the framed photo of Lasso’s win still takes pride of place at Moore’s house in Peterborough.
A major drawcard of The Valley is its unique features. The crowd is extremely close to the action and the short home straight makes for amazing finishes. On top of these unique features, Moore likes the final turn that sits right below Legends.
“Moonee Valley is unique because it’s the only metro track with a camber turn,” he said.
“I’m only interested in staying horses so it’s very important that if you go wide you have equal rights with the horses on the inside, and The Valley is the only metro track with that - it gives every horse a chance”
Moore is a part owner of St Jean, a 6-year-old horse gunning for glory in New Zealand.
It won the City of Auckland Cup on New Year’s Day and is in the running to claim a $1million (NZ) bonus if it can win the Avondale Gold Cup on February 18 and the Auckland Cup on March 11.
All the connections of St Jean, including Moore, are relieved it’s finally racing again after enduring a spell that included a tendon injury and inconsistent readings to ibuprofen, a drug commonly used to treat tendon injuries.
Then-trainer and part owner Aaron Purcell decided to turn St Jean over to New Zealand trainers Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs as horses are eligible to run across the Tasman with minor ibuprofen readings.
“They have the rule here where you can’t take a horse to the races with any drug at all in it and we’ve had to abide by that,” Moore said.
“He hasn’t had any of that drug since September 2015, and even in New Zealand he had positive readings, but I think it’s just about gone now.”
Moore never had any thoughts of selling St Jean when it was relocated to New Zealand and is thrilled with how the horse has settled in another country.
“The horse has settled fantastically in New Zealand with Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs,” he said.
“Where they keep their horses they’ve got a beach of about a mile long and he trains along the beach.”
Before its injury problems St Jean had a thrilling win at The Valley where it was second last with 800 metres to run and ran around the field to win by a head. Moore said the aim is to bring it back to Australia with bigger goals on the horizon.
“If he can win the Avondale Cup and Auckland Cup we’ll bring him back here for the Melbourne Cup.”