When it comes to identifying those that will dominate the landscape of Flat racing in years to come, the name of jockey Tom Marquand inevitably crops up in such conversations.
Having claimed the apprentice title during his first full season in 2015, the 21-year-old has seen his development accelerate at a rate of knots.
He celebrated his first century of winners last year, and hopes it is a sign of things to come over the next 12 months as he looks to take his career to the next level.
He said: “At the start of the year it was the aim to ride 100 winners and I eventually achieved it in December at Wolverhampton on a horse for William Haggas.
“I had mum there and my gran – she doesn’t come racing much, it was just by chance she was there. It was nice to do it then, as it was a bit of a family affair.
“There were a few winners that were more satisfying than others. Oh This Is Us started it off in Dubai and then there was Anna Nerium winning the Free Handicap and Group Three at Goodwood.
“The quantity of winners was there and one thing I wanted was a few quality winners and they came too.”
Never one to let an opportunity go begging, Marquand, for the second time in his career, swapped domestic shores for a stint in Australia over the winter – something he feels has benefited him immensely.
He said: “This time round was very different to last time, as then I went off the back of being champion apprentice and I was only allowed to ride a few and I didn’t want to ride too many winners because of my claim.
“This time I had just over 100 rides and nine winners, with six in the city (Sydney). I was hoping I would potentially get a few provincial winners and pick up a few decent rides in the city.
“Looking forward it would be a silly opportunity to turn down going back to Australia for the winter again at the end of this year and make use of the contact base I’ve set up.
“I felt like it benefited me a lot. As long as nothing changes, it is a no-brainer to go back out there as I improved myself as a rider and probably as an athlete as well.”
One big aim for Marquand this year is to improve the quality of horse he is riding – and in the Richard Hannon-trained Urban Icon, who will make his return in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday, he believes he could have the ideal partner.
He said: “Urban Icon had two starts and won twice. Even Keel, the horse he beat into second twice, came out and won a nice race at Newmarket at the back-end of last year so I would say that is a pretty good guideline.
“The pieces of work he has been doing at the start of the year have been pretty nice. Physically he has done well and I’m personally looking forward to him a lot. He has got a real nice mannerism.
“There are a few other horses I rode last year that I’m particularly looking forward to getting on in Kuwait Currency and Dirty Rascal, then around 150 two-year-olds.”
Although now an established member of the team at the Hannon yard, Marquand, who this year will be sponsored by insurance company Markel, is keen to bolster his links with Newmarket-based Haggas.
Marquand said: “It’s a pretty nice avenue that I would hopefully like to take a little bit further if possible.
“He was great at the back-end of last year and I must have ridden him 10 to 15 winners, but more significant was the prize-money as he was putting me up in nice races.
“I’ve been down there a reasonable amount of to ride out and just what strikes me is the class with his string. Hopefully it is a team I can go spend some time helping out in the summer, as well as obviously helping out the boss.”
With plenty of rides set to come his way there is an outside chance Marquand could end the season as champion jockey, but while that is a long-held ambition he will not be losing sleep if that does not materialise this year.
He said: “Ever since I was champion apprentice I thought I would love to be champion jockey because I personally felt I relished being under that bit of pressure and having that scrap for the title.
“Whether it is this year, I’m not sure. I will be giving it a boot from start to finish.
“If I end up in that position I will just view things the same and just try to ride as many winners as a I possibly can and hopefully it will land me somewhere there or thereabouts.”