Tom Marquand rates William Buick as the biggest danger to his chances of securing a first British Flat jockeys’ championship.
The 2015 champion apprentice currently sits second in the standings behind Oisin Murphy, having enjoyed a whirlwind first two months of the season that has included finishing runner-up in the Derby aboard Khalifa Sat.
Although fully respecting the claims of reigning champion Murphy, the 22-year-old – who partnered 29 winners last month – feels with riders only able to participate at one meeting per day it could tip the balance in favour of Buick.
Marquand said: “The last few weeks have been great and numerically I think July has been my best ever month in the saddle, rides and winners-wise, which is great.
“It is weird not having an official end to the season, as they have not announced when it is going to finish. It will be a long season, I guess, and I’m looking forward to all of it.
“Oisin has got off to a flyer and he is going great guns. I think William is probably not someone many would have initially considered.
“With this one meeting rule it means someone who is retained with a big job like William has with Godolphin can ride that quantity of winners needed to finish at the top.”
Despite being touched off by Ryan Moore for the accolade of leading riding at last week’s Qatar Goodwood Festival, the Group One-winning jockey has taken plenty of positives from the meeting.
He added: “It was frustrating to miss out on being leading rider at Goodwood. We had the same number of winners, but he had a couple of extra third-place finishes.
“To be honest with you I had only had one Glorious Goodwood winner before that in a Class Three handicap last year so to have even ridden five winners was a bonus.
“If it was last year I would have no chance of doing that as my big-meeting rides were never fancied, whereas Goodwood has just shown how much a step up my book of rides has taken.”
As for the pick of his Goodwood winners it was victory gained aboard the William Haggas-trained One Master in the Group Three Oak Tree Stakes that is a personal highlight.
He said: “You would have to say One Master was the best of the winners I had there.
“She is a dual Group One winner and pulling the victory off in the style she did is always nice.
“It is always a great buzz when you win races like that on a horse of her quality, especially as it was on ground that wasn’t her ideal surface.”
Key to Marquand’s hopes of securing a first title will be the continuation of his blossoming partnership with Haggas, which has gone from strength to strength this season.
He said: “His horses have been unstoppable since racing resumed and luckily I’ve had a fair few for his team. He has already had more than 50 winners in these first two months of the season, which is some going.
“Hopefully he can continue this way throughout the season. He is not renowned for getting them bang sharp then having them fall off the cliff halfway through the season – he is the type of trainer to keep them going in great form.”
While Haggas will play a pivotal role in the remainder of Marquand’s season, he hopes fellow trainer Tony Carroll can also continue to provide a steady flow of winners.
He said: “I’m lucky that I have a lot of other yards that use me, like Tony Carroll. When I go to places like Bath and Chepstow and places like that I get really good rides as I have people like him supporting me.
“I rode out every weekend at Tony’s when I was 14, but I haven’t been back since school as I’ve been so busy then I had my apprenticeship at Richard Hannon’s.
“He has never faltered though. He has always given me a consistent flow of rides and winners each year and that is great. It was fantastic to give him a winner at Ascot the other week as it just means that little bit more.”
With no fixed date for the end of the season, Marquand knows plenty of twists and turns remain – something he feels adds to the excitement of the title race.
He added: “I’m lucky I’m sitting second at the moment having made a such a great start.
“It will be all a game of opinions as to how the rest of the season will go as no one know what shape it is going to take.
“Hopefully I will still be right up there when it does come to an end.”