Tom Marquand is eagerly looking forward to teaming up with Dubai Honour in Sunday’s QEII Cup at Sha Tin following his Australian exploits.
The William Haggas-trained five-year-old has taken his form to new heights this year, winning two Group Ones to emulate his former stablemate Addeybb.
In beating the now-retired Anamoe on his most recent outing, Dubai Honour announced himself on the world stage, displaying a turn of foot that should stand him in good stead this weekend.
Marquand missed his first win in the Ranvet Stakes with a shoulder injury, but was back on board in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes when defeat never looked likely.
“He did what he did in Australia and was pretty exceptional over there. It looks like he’s taken the journey to Hong Kong really well and the updates I’m getting from there are that he looks great and everything has gone to plan so far,” said Marquand.
“I think he is a horse that has just come of age recently. William was very keen on the idea that he hadn’t had him as well as he has him now for a while.”
This will not be Dubai Honour’s first appearance at Sha Tin, as he ran with great credit in December 2021 to be beaten just a length and a half behind Japan’s Loves Only You in the Hong Kong Cup.
“His previous Hong Kong run was a big run, but you’d like to think if he can replicate his Australian form that would put him even a few lengths closer,” said Marquand.
“The ground will be a bit different to what he had in Australia but it wasn’t as slow as it looked like it was going to be that day, it was probably only good to soft ground, by our standards anyway.”
On what has been responsible for him seemingly taking his form to a new level, Marquand suggests a slight change in tactics may be the reason.
He said: “I think the way we ride him now has brought about a change. The day he finished second in the Champion Stakes, James (Doyle) dropped him in because we had Addeybb that day who went forward and he showed that turn of foot, but that was on bottomless ground.
“To be honest, we’ve been riding him close enough (to the pace) until he went back to Australia, where he has really shown a finishing kick. I think that was down to the way we rode him.
“It doesn’t look as if there are going to be too many runners at the weekend so hopefully we can do a similar thing.”
Marquand has also picked up the ride on Hugo Palmer’s Flaming Rib in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize.
Impressive at Doha on his penultimate run, he was well beaten in Dubai subsequently but Marquand hopes the track layout will be in his favour this time.
“Going around a bend will be in his favour. He won in Qatar really well and he performs to a good level,” said Marquand, who will be riding him for the first time.
“Obviously he has to take on some very good sprinters, but hopefully he can put in a career best and go close.
“I fly Friday night, I’m back in Ireland on Monday and then probably Yarmouth Tuesday so it’s an in-and-out job!”