“Just because I’m going back training, I’m not going to stop firing my heart into those sorts of things.”
An outback Queenslander who grew up to take on the world with unbeaten racehorse Black Caviar, Moody’s tough persona takes on a different complexion when he reflects on his pilgrimages.
“You can stand on a point on a rise and have a picture in front of you where there’s 30,000 men just laying in mud, having a rest and having a smoke and a pot of stew, five miles back on the front line, and you can turn the other way and every degree on the horizon you can see a cemetery,” he says.
“To stand on Anzac Cove at dawn, or stand on Isurava and look over Kokoda valley at dawn, you can imagine what those blokes did for our lifestyle today, it’s impossible not to be moved by it.
“It’s the same when you’re standing in the cemetery on the Western Front at Pozieres … or the war memorial at Villers-Bretonneux – that’s one of the most moving places you’ll ever visit.
“When you see a father and two or three sons lying side by side or a 16-year-old boy that lied to be there and gave their lives for what we live today, it’s all too quickly forgotten but on Anzac Day it’s remembered thankfully.”
Moody had great uncles and cousins who fought in the wars, but his interest was innate.
“Always as a kid, attending Anzac Day marches as a school boy in Charleville in western Queensland, it’s something I’ve always done all my life and I’ve instilled into my own children,” he says, adding that daughter Celine – an AFLW footballer with the Western Bulldogs – is a Signals Officer with the Australian Army by her own choice.
While Palestine and Borneo remain unchecked on Moody’s bucket list, the 50-year-old is also planning a return to Kokoda. He was meant to go back this year but a pulled hamstring in late 2019 put those plans on ice.
It’s the one experience Moody says all Australians should try and do in their lifetime.
“We took a young girl with us [on Kokoda] who was on a scholarship and she read her grandfather’s letters to us around the campfire, back to his parents, and we were laughing and crying at the same time reading his letters, a bloke in his early 20s,” Moody says.
“To stand on the plateau there at Isurava and look out over the Kokoda valley … learn about that and read the messages those blokes sent back to their families … I’d encourage anyone to do it. It’s a phenomenal thing to do.”
Moody says racing, which will feature at Flemington on Saturday, has long done a great job at commemorating the Anzacs.
“Anzac Day has grown somewhat in the last couple of decades; it never lost its relevance but it probably lost its popularity,” he says.
“It’s been great how the last few decades you see it celebrated again.
“We’ve always been a massive part of it but other sporting things getting on side celebrating it probably helped no end as well.”
Damien Ractliffe is the Chief Racing Reporter for The Age.