For many the end of 2020 cannot come soon enough – but Tom Marquand is one of the few who can take plenty of pride out of what he has achieved over the past 12 months.
In a year which has been anything but normal, Marquand has ticked plenty of boxes on his CV – securing a breakthrough victory at Group One level along with celebrating both his first Classic success and inaugural Royal Ascot winner.
Though Marquand has enjoyed a number of notable domestic triumphs, it was victory on Addeybb in the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill in March – the first of two at the top level he would achieve in Australia on the William Haggas-trained gelding – where his journey began.
“When William announced Addeybb and Young Rascal were going to go there, he asked if I would ride them and it was a chance I absolutely jumped at,” said Marquand.
“I had the biggest stroke of luck, as I got kicked on my second day back there just a few days before Addeybb was due to run for the first time and fractured the top of my fibula. It was complete luck it was insignificant enough to allow me to carry on riding.
“The first Group One on him was amazing, as Young Rascal went in earlier on the card and it didn’t look like it could be any better than that, but it did and it was amazing.
“For William and the team to get the stars aligned on that day was incredible and then we did it all over again the next month in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick.”
With racing in Britain resuming in June following the initial lockdown, the 22-year-old did not have to wait long to celebrate another milestone moment as he steered old ally Who Dares Wins to glory in the Queen Alexandra Stakes for trainer Alan King.
He said: “I thought I had a few good chances over the week and a few ran big races like Yazaman and I was resigned to the fact I was going to have to wait another year for that Royal Ascot winner. Then Who Dares Wins goes and wins the Queen Alexandra.
“I won on him three times as a 5lb claimer, a Northumberland Plate on him, and for him to then come back and give me a Royal Ascot winner was just nuts.”
Good luck often favours those doing well and Marquand – who eclipsed his personal best tally of 136 winners in a year last month – found himself in the privileged position of picking up the winning spare ride aboard Galileo Chrome in the Pertemps St Leger at Doncaster in September.
He said: “I was left without a ride in the St Leger after English King, who I was back on board, was sent to France for a race that looked more preferable.
“A few of the lads said you should try to get the ride on Galileo Chrome after Shane Crosse was ruled out, so I got my agent Shashi Righton on the case.
“Luke Harvey shouted over to me at the start of the Flying Childers that I had got the ride on Galileo Chrome. It was bizarre how it worked out.
“It was an unbelievable opportunity to ride a horse like that in a Classic for Joseph O’Brien and we obviously had the fairytale ending to it all and I couldn’t believe how easy it all went.”
Having played a big part in Marquand’s campaign earlier in the year it was fitting that Addeybb saved his best until last when routing his rivals in the Champion Stakes at Ascot to gain a first Group One on British soil.
Marquand – whose partner Hollie Doyle has enjoyed another record-breaking 12 months – said: “Addeybb had that awkward draw in stall in 11 and that was something of a concern, but like Galileo Chrome in the St Leger he made it easy as he got across and sorted himself out, and from there he just took them apart – there is no other way to describe it.
“It was so well deserved for him as a horse. All the cynics, until the Champion Stakes, were saying he has only won two Group Ones in Australia and they are weaker.
“To come back and get his British Group One was so deserved for him and telling of the training performance of William and those involved in him.”
:: Third in the title race this year, Tom Marquand is seen by many as a champion jockey in waiting. Here are as his views on his prospects and further reflections on 2020.
On hopes for 2021:
“Winning the title is something every jockey wants to achieve. I finished third this year and I had a great run until William (Buick) and Oisin (Murphy) stretched away the last few weeks. A lot of thanks needs to go to my agent.
“I’d love to manage it one day, so whether it is next year, I’m not sure, but I will be looking to hopefully get on a few more Group One winners, along with trying to tick that achievement off at the same time. I will be going full-on for it, that is one thing you can count on.”
On Glorious Goodwood:
“Ryan (Moore) beat me for the leading jockey by one third place. Five winners at Goodwood would nine times out of 10 give you the leading jockey prize, but Ryan had one more third than me so he just nicked it. One Master would be the pick of the winners there, as she has been pivotal to Somerville Lodge over the last couple of years. It was a proper Goodwood winner getting up at the death and I’m glad I got my turn to get a win on her.”
On William Haggas:
“His record speaks for itself and he constantly has a phenomenal strike-rate. I’m lucky to be part of such a significant team.
“I’ve gone to him with many different questions and it is nice we have that relationship, that I can ask his honest opinion of things and he is going to give it to me.
“I think a vital part of any relationship between trainer and jockey is trust and I’d like to think what has happened over the last couple of years has put that in place.”