Tom Marquand is determined to build on the big impression he made in an extended spell in Australia when the Flat season gets under way in Britain.
With racing sidelined domestically amid the coronavirus crisis, the 22-year-old took full advantage of the opportunities that came his way during his time on the other side of the world – highlighted by Group One victories aboard the William Haggas-trained Addeybb.
Success in the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill in March was Marquand’s maiden triumph at the top level and the pair struck again in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick last month.
In addition to his Group One exploits, Marquand also picked up six Group Three wins and returns home as the fourth-favourite to be crowned champion jockey in 2020 behind Oisin Murphy, Silvestre de Sousa and Danny Tudhope.
He said: “They seemed to take me in and I was very fortunate with the opportunities I got. It worked out for the best, I was very lucky.
“I enjoy it there, it’s a great opportunity to go over every winter, but I see my future and where I want to achieve things being back home.
“That (being champion) is the target, it could be quite a long way off yet, but I’m hoping everything that has happened over the last six months or year is putting me on the right path towards being in a position to be able to achieve it.
“The acknowledgement of what William did with the horses down there and getting my first Group Ones couldn’t have come at a better time, but equally you’d obviously much rather things have been going as normal.
“I’d have come back a couple of days before the Craven meeting and it would have been fantastic looking forward to the new season.”
Marquand’s Group One victories were in front of empty stands, with racing being staged behind closed doors – something that will be replicated in Britain and Ireland when the sport does resume.
The rider said: “Racing behind closed doors is frustrating for a lot of people, but it’s not as bad as you think.
“In reality if we are able to go to the races, does it (behind closed doors) matter as much as people think it does – people are still going to be watching, still going to be betting and trainers are still able to run their horses, so I struggle to see a downside to it if that’s one of the few options we have.
“It worked very well out there, they did it very well. If we can emulate anywhere near what they managed to do it should be fine.”
Marquand is understandably full of praise for Addeybb and sure he can make his mark in Europe when the time comes.
He said: “The first time it looked like it was hard work for him to get away from Verry Elleegant, but then she came out a week later and obliterated a Group One field by four or five lengths. The other day it was impressive – he skipped away in the last furlong.
“The year ahead is exciting for him. It’s the first time he’s stepped up and won a Group One, but he’s been second to horses like Magical last year and if that’s not solid Group One form, what is.”
There is another Haggas-trained horse to keep an eye on this season in the shape of Born With Pride, a daughter of Born To Sea who created a favourable impression on her debut at Newmarket in November.
Marquand said: “Born With Pride looked and felt exceptionally nice at Newmarket when she won. It was a Listed race first time out and I didn’t have to give her a flick behind the saddle or anything, which is pretty remarkable. She’s a filly that we can certainly look forward to seeing.
“Obviously there’s horses like Threat (for Richard Hannon) too. He was a standout two-year-old last year.”
He added: “Racing needs the clearance from the Government to be able to resume and get the wheels in motion, but until that happens I’ll try to keep busy and keep myself at something.
“I’m pretty active anyway and my weight isn’t a problem as I’m always doing plenty and I’m lucky in that regard. Keeping the brain busy is just as important as keeping the body busy, I guess.”