By Emma Berry
Ahead of a quiet midweek meeting at Newmarket, the sun is shining and a hint of a breeze occasionally ruffles the heads of the flowers surrounding the parade ring as one of the world’s most famous jockeys sits serenely by, awaiting his three rides of the evening.
Gerald Mosse has experienced the clamour of many a big raceday since his riding career began some 35 years ago. He won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for fellow young buck Nicolas Clement aboard Saumarez (GB) back in 1990 and the following year guided Arazi through a faultless quintet of French Group wins before Pat Valenzuela took up the reins for the colt’s now infamous and breathtaking Breeders’ Cup Juvenile romp.
The most successful jockey at the international meeting in Hong Kong, the place which has been his home on and off since 1992, Mosse has partnered such iconic names of the global racing circuit as Jim And Tonic (Fr), Sacred Kingdom (Aus) and Red Cadeaux (GB). Having ridden the last named in two of his three runner-up finishes in the Melbourne Cup, the jockey went one better when becoming the first French rider to win Australia’s most famous race, teaming up with his compatriot Alain de Royer-Dupre for a resounding victory on Americain.
In short, Mosse knows the buzz like few others. It’s fair to say that the only thing buzzing at the Rowley Mile this peaceful evening is a hopeful bee by the flowerbed but the bucolic scene is very much in keeping with the current demeanour of Newmarket’s newcomer.
“I’m a British resident now,” says the winner of 65 Group 1 races. “I live in Newmarket and what could be better than today—beautiful weather on a beautiful racecourse?”
Mosse is certainly not an unfamiliar face on Newmarket’s training grounds in the morning. Back in the mid-1990s, during his stint as the Aga Khan’s number one jockey, he could regularly be found on Newmarket Heath and on British tracks riding the owner-breeder’s horses trained by Sir Michael Stoute and Luca Cumani. And indeed only last season he appeared on occasion in Jeremy Noseda’s string during his retainership with the then-fledgling Phoenix Thoroughbred operation for whom he rode Take Me With You to her third-place finish at Royal Ascot in the G3 Albany S. behind Different League (Fr) and Alpha Centauri (Ire). While the foundations of that team continue to shift, Mosse has been signed up by another owner with a growing Thoroughbred portfolio in British racing, Dr Johnny Hon.
He says, “I have ridden here in my career but I never had the chance to be based here. Now the opportunity has come up and I’ve grabbed it, and I really appreciate the opportunity given to me by Dr Johnny Hon. He has a number of horses based here and he asked me to help him. He’s based in Hong Kong and that’s where we got to know each other. It’s a big help to be able to communicate with him about his investment and his team here and to try to be part of the team.”
That team stretches to around 40 horses, most of whom are named with the ‘Global’ prefix, spread between Ed Dunlop and Gay Kelleway in Newmarket and Ed Walker and Charlie Hills in Lambourn.
“I’m riding these horses as a priority but I can ride for other people as well,” Mosse explains. “I’ve been here for long enough that people have given me support over many years and I’m very grateful for that. I have the privilege to ride for William Haggas, Saeed Bin Suroor, John Ryan, Ed Dunlop, Gay Kelleway. It makes me very pleased but to be honest I would like to ride a little bit more because sometimes I feel that I’m missing something. But I’m not greedy, I’m happy with what I have and I can always look forward to the next day.”
The peripatetic nature of the lives of all top jockeys is not something which Mosse has completely turned his back on. While his colleagues and compatriots were riding at ParisLongchamp’s controversial Guineas meeting, Mosse travelled to Rome to win the G2 Premio Presidente della Repubblica aboard Royal Julius (Ire), the first time he had ridden for fellow Marseille-born trainer Jerome Reynier. The same partnership looks set to be back in action at Royal Ascot, where the 5-year-old son of Royal Applause (GB) will be one of the outsiders in a competitive field for the G1 Prince Of Wales’s S.
“He’s a lovely young trainer and we come from the same place but we don’t know each other well,” says Mosse of Reynier, whose impressive strike-rate from his southern outpost has ensured that he has growing support.
“He asked me to go to Rome and I really appreciated that. It was a dream trip. Royal Ascot will be a different story, we’ll be stepping up big time but the horse has some ability. We don’t know if that’s his level—I cannot expect to beat a champion there but he’s well and in great form at the moment and he’ll give his best. He has a great temperament and is a good traveller so we should be able to travel worldwide. I used to ride Red Cadeaux and he wasn’t a superstar in England but when he went overseas he became a superstar. It was the same story with Jim And Tonic and Americain. So we’ll carry on and see if we can follow the same kind of itinerary with Royal Julius.”
Though Mosse has yet to ride at the new ParisLongchamp, he’s been keeping an eye on developments from afar and feels that it was a mistake to return the first two French Classics to the ‘moyenne piste’. In the end, only the colts’ race was run over that course, with the fillies’ contest being switched to the outer track after a jockeys’ protest led by Christophe Soumillon.
“I wasn’t very comfortable when I saw that they had put the Guineas over the medium track,” he admits. “I used to ride in the Guineas on the medium track years back and it was trouble. I don’t understand who thought that this would be a good idea. Longchamp is quite big but the medium track is tight and the turn is very slippery. So I’ve seen many accidents there and then after the first Guineas they realised it was trouble. I also don’t think the false [cutaway] rail will work because now all the jockeys will be thinking we have time and we can drop in and then everybody tries to jump in the same hole and it creates more trouble. If you know that the fence is there you have to find your way out, and if you are on a good horse you have plenty of time to catch up.”
He will return to Longchamp for the first time on Sunday when riding First Sitting (GB) for Chris Wall in the G3 La Coupe. But it is the curious twists, turns and undulations of a number of Britain’s quirkier tracks that will doubtless be testing every bit of Mosse’s canny as he travels the length and breadth of the country to fulfil his new contract. At the end of May he was reunited with Wall’s stalwart for a third stakes success on the 7-year-old and though that was at the unconventional Goodwood, Mosse will know well Britain’s Grade 1 tracks. Today, however, he finds himself heading north for Yorkshire to take in the tight bends of Beverley for the first time.
“I think it’s very brave at this stage of his career,” says Ed Dunlop, who has enjoyed international success with the jockey, notably through the G1 Hong Kong Vase win of Red Cadeaux, and is delighted to be able to call on his experience in Newmarket.
“He’s internationally very talented but he’s having to learn fast about all these different tracks here. Having Gerald in town has been very useful for me in the mornings as he has such great experience. I hope he’s enjoying it.”
Mosse himself says of his new venture, “The thing that is most difficult for the guys [jockeys] here is that they have to travel a lot. I respect people’s involvement with the horses in Britain—the tradition, the crowds, the owners—everybody makes the effort and racing has really solid support with a strong root. I believe it was probably something missing in my career so far not to be part of it.”
Naturally lithe with a healthy tan and a hawk-like look that gives him an air of being constantly on guard, Mosse could quite easily pass for being at least a decade younger than he is. At 51, he has a few years on Frankie Dettori and is now mixing with weighing-room colleagues not even born when he won the Arc.
“I believe it’s probably easier to join the team of jockeys here and to be accepted than in other countries,” he says. “Of course when you arrive and are new you have to find your own space but I’ve been here long enough to be able to blend in without too much trouble. I’m one of the older ones and for me it’s a privilege to challenge with the younger ones. As long as everybody can play the game, everybody will enjoy it.”
An hour after chatting to TDN, Mosse files out from the weighing-room amid his new colleagues, noticeable at once by the distinctive white gloves of a magician. He is clearly not the only one to believe that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve as he heads into the twilight years of what has been a magical career.
“I’ve a few years left to go to the end of my trip so I definitely want to enjoy it as much as I can to the end,” he says. “After that will be another challenge.”