Stephen Moore is one of Ireland’s rising stars, who has made his mark in the sport of showjumping with big wins at home and abroad. Stephen is the perfect example of a hard working young showjumper who won’t rest on his laurels and is always striving to improve himself and his horses. Equestrian News and Sports Media had a chat with Steven about his career and recent move to the United States.
1. How did you get involved in showjumping? ”My parents own Rockmount Equestrian Centre in Claregalway so I grew up riding ponies. My father, David produced a lot of young horses (including Merlin’s Magic) so it was always there for me. I did a lot of pony club and then moved onto the registered shows when I got my own pony when I was 9. Jumping was always my favorite side of it. My sister Alice retired from ponies when I was 14, so I took over her grade A pony and a few more and it sort of took off from there!”
2. When did you know you wanted a career in showjumping? ”It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do when I finished school. I went to university in Galway for a year and a half but kept riding a lot. As time went by, things were going better and better for me with the horses. So at 19 I left university and went to train with Trevor Breen in England for 3 months. Out there I saw a whole new level of the sport and i knew then that this is what i want to do.”
3. What do you look for in a competition horse? ”I’m really not that fussy when it comes to horses as long as they can jump! I think when your my age and trying to build your name, you just have to make the best of what you can get your hands on! But what was always important for me is to be able to sell them. A good looking horse with a good attitude that rides well and jumps in a nice shape in an uncomplicated way is the easiest to sell. But sometimes you have to compromise!”
4. Merlins Magic has been your number one horse since you took over the ride. What are your plans for him? ”Merlin has been unbelievable for me. I got him at just the right time too. I had produced a few horses up to 1.35/1.40 but they were sold on as soon as they were going well.” ”I had jumped two 1.40 grand prix with “A Touch Of Lass” at the end of 2012 for 4 and 8 faults. Then merlin came to me in February 2013. He was 2nd in our first Grand Prix at the welcome tour in Millstreet. A few weeks later, I was third in my first 1.40 national GP in Barnadown, followed by 6th in my first 1.50 premier 2 weeks later in Mullingar.” ”When ‘Henry’ is on form. he just doesn’t knock poles!!”
Some results from Stephen & Merlin’s Magic * Highest placed young rider in the 2013 premier series. *Clear in the three star GP in Millstreet. *Placed in a 1.40 in Arezzo, Italy at the Nations cup show. *Won the young rider GP in Cavan. *Won the welcome tour GP in Millstreet this year. *2nd in the National GP in Galway. *3rd in the Connaught GP in Claregalway. ”Unfortunately, he picked up an injury in July and he has been on a break since. We’re still talking with his owner and his vet at the minute about what will be best for him next year. But now he’s just enjoying the field!”
5. Have you trained with many people? If so, could you tell us a little bit about the experience? Did you learn a lot? ”I’ve always been very lucky with the training i have received. Obviously my dad was my first major influence and still is a great help all the time. In ponies, I trained with Ralph Conroy in 13.2’s and he got me going at the bigger tracks and the qualifiers.” ”In 14.2’s I got a lot of help from Paul Duffy when dad wasn’t around and i also got regular lessons from Paul. Then in horses, Dad and his friend Noel Healy put in a lot of work with me at the start. I only had young horses and they were both very good to produce them.” ”I went to Trevor Breen for 2 weeks in Tipperary. That was a massive help. Trevor is a brilliant trainer. When Trevor moved to England, i went out there 3 months and brought 2 of my own horses. Trevor was a huge influence and did a lot for me. He improved my riding massively and thought me how to work and manage the horses properly. I worked at home until I went to Darragh Kenny for 3 weeks on a bursary from the SJI last year.”
6. What advice would you give to Ireland’s under 21 riders? ”I think the most important thing is good training from people who know what they are talking about and have experience. I recommend going somewhere as a working pupil for a while too. Its good to get away from home and be forced to stand on your own two feet without mum and dad!”
7. You have recently moved to America. Can you tell us a bit about that? ”I first came to America on the young rider bursary at the end of last year for 3 weeks with Darragh Kenny. I loved it and got good opportunities to jump in the ring which can be hard to get out here. Darragh asked me to come back out after Christmas and stay on for the winter so I did. I loved it but always knew i would go home in early march to be ready for the season in Ireland. I had a good year at home but at the end of the summer Darragh offered me a job as his second rider which would involve 6 months of the year in Florida and the summers based in Europe, so i couldn’t refuse that!”
8. Have you brought any horses with you? Or will they follow you out for next year? ”I have two horses flying out next week. One is “Paddy’s darco” who Darragh and my parents own together. He’s a 7 year old we think a lot of so this is a great move for him. ‘Paddy’s Darco” was originally produced by Claregalway’s Mark Duffy. The other is “Romeo” owned by my parents. He’s a really nice 6 year old that i’ll hopefully be able to sell out here. ”
9. Is it long term? ”I’ve committed to a year and we’ll see where we stand then!!”
10. Will you have many horses? ”At the minute it looks like i’ll have one or two 1.40/1.45 horses for the winter here and then some really nice 6,7 and 8 year olds to bring on and jump some bigger young horse classes as well. Including the clients Darragh trains, there are 35 horses in work at the minute and more on the way so there is no shortage!!”
11. What are your plans for next year? What shows will you do in America? ‘We are in Wellington, Florida now and we’ll stay here until the end of April. The 12 weeks of “WEF” at the Palm Beach Equestrian Centre start in January so that’s where we’re based. We’ll go to Europe at the end of April or early May. The plan is to rent a yard to base in Belgium and together we will produce the string of young horses at really good shows. As well as Darraghs horses I will also have room to work myself with my own owners and will do alot of international shows while Darragh goes to nation cup shows.
12. What are your goals and ambitions? ”Id love to go as far as possible! I’d love to have a solid business with a few trade horses coming and going and a good string of horses from young ones up to top Grand Prix horses, competing at the highest level.” Equestrian News and Sports Media wishes Stephen the very best of luck with his new job at Oakland Ventures LCC!!!