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George Moore
, 1957

by Ern McQuillan

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 40.5 cm x 30.5 cm)

George Moore OBE (1923–2008), champion jockey, was born in Mackay, Queensland and was apprenticed in Brisbane in 1938. Moving to Sydney, he began his long association with trainer Tommy Smith. Nicknamed ‘Cotton Fingers’ he won a record ten Sydney Premierships in his career of 2278 wins in Australia and overseas – although he never won the Melbourne Cup. In England, he won the English Derby, King George and Queen Elizabeth stakes, the 2,000 Guineas twice, the 1,000 Guineas, the Coronation and Ascot Gold Cups and the Gimcrack and Champagne stakes. He won the Arc De Triomphe and the Derby in France, and the San Diego Stakes in the US. Widely regarded as Australia’s greatest jockey, he retired from racing in 1971, when he won his final race on Classic Mission in the Victoria Derby. Moore became Hong Kong’s leading trainer before moving to the Gold Coast. The George Moore Medal is awarded annually to Sydney’s outstanding jockey.

Ern McQuillan (b. 1926) completed a photography cadetship at the Daily Mirror in the 1940s and after World War II worked for newspapers and magazines such as the 'Women’s Weekly like a version', the Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Telegraph and the Bulletin. The National Portrait Gallery holds twenty of McQuillan’s photographs, including portraits of Australian athletics, cricket and tennis champions from the 1950s and 1960s. Moore had been playing tennis before McQuillan arrived at his house in Vaucluse, Sydney. He donned his jockey’s silk and cradled his riding paraphernalia for the shot – but kept his tennis shorts on.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2003
Accession number: 2003.114