McDonald is a young champion with a smooth style and ice in his veins, but he cannot match Moore for the variety of situations in which he has excelled.
Moore has achieved G1 wins in 11 countries – and has ridden at least three G1 wins in nine of them – highlighting the outstanding feature of his career: his ability to excel in a wide range of conditions.
One of the great challenges for the modern jockey is the variety of racing styles and surfaces they face; the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin are both 2400m Group 1 races with a right hand hand turn into the home straight, but riders face a completely different set of challenges within.
What makes Moore so special is how at home he seems on any continent – whether it be the undulations of Europe, the flat tracks of Asia or even the United States – and how adept he is at adapting to those foreign environments.
Moore’s steer on Vela Azul in an interference-ridden Japan Cup combined some of his best in-race attributes; the patience to allow things to unfold, but then the skill to react fast, change direction at speed in the straight and find a narrow gap late.
He has showcased that skillset many times at Sha Tin; his rides on Ping Hai Star in the 2018 Hong Kong Derby, in which he read the early speed beautifully and showed nerveless patience, or on Maurice in the 2016 Hong Kong Cup, where he trucked from back in the field like he was steering a semi-trailer through peak hour city traffic.
Manoeuvring the ‘Beast from the East’ Maurice off the rail at full speed to a one off spot isn’t something that can look pretty, but his move to find clear air for Vela Azul showed Moore’s deft touch: the shift barely decipherable and the horse did not lose its stride or rhythm at a key moment.
At 30, McDonald is nine years younger than Moore so perhaps the comparisons are unfair – he may yet assume a similar globetrotting status, especially given his strong association and success for Coolmore in Australia.
But, in the spirit of the unwinnable debate and at the risk of sparking even more social media outrage, let’s compare anyway. As of right now, McDonald has ridden Group 1 winners in four countries; his native New Zealand, Australia and sole G1 wins in Hong Kong and at Royal Ascot, on Nature Strip earlier this year.