While there may have been no crowd in attendance at Rosehill last week to witness Tom Marquand’s maiden Group 1 success on Addeybb in the Ranvet Stakes, the triumph was no less sweet for the talented young jockey.
Racing in Australia is currently taking place behind closed doors, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe.
Marquand, who returned to Australia earlier this month after a successful stint down under in January, secured his success from the front on the William Haggas-trained Addeybb. New Zealand-bred filly Verry Elleegant and James McDonald threw down a strong challenge but were kept at bay by half a length.
Earlier on the card, Marquand had partnered another Haggas inmate, Young Rascal, to victory in the Group 3 N E Manion Cup.
Reflecting on his breakthrough success, Marquand said: “It’s one of those things from an extremely young age that I’ve wanted to win a Group 1 – and now I’ve done it. I’ve spent so much of my life dreaming about it.
“I was driving home and the situation did make me think what it would have been like if it had been a normal raceday with the Golden Slipper crowd on one of the biggest days of Australian racing.
“Harry Eustace, who brought the horses down here for William, made enough noise for about 100 people! The emotion was still there because the people who are most heavily involved with the horses are the ones who feel the emotion.”
GROUP 1 🏆🇦🇺
What a day, my first Group 1 aboard Addeybb in The Ranvet Stakes and also Young Rascal taking out the G3 Manion Cup for William Haggas✌🏆
Thankyou so much for all the messages, I hope everyone can stay healthy and safe in our current turbulent and difficult times🙏 pic.twitter.com/bWaxLdhKyH
— Tom Marquand (@TomMarquand) March 21, 2020
With racing in Britain suspended until at least the end of April, Marquand’s victory did not go unnoticed on these shores and according to the rider his phone “was exploding for two days.”
“The win came at a pretty tough time for British racing,” said Marquand. “It was the only race people could watch. Sometimes international winners blend into a bit of blur when there’s so much going on at home. It gave everyone a little bit of a lift.”
Marquand is only too aware of the situation in the UK; many of his friends and family are involved in the industry, and the jockey expressed his concern around the uncertainty of when Britain will be able to stage racing again.
He said: “It’s a major hit for the industry, it’s so important and one that doesn’t stop. People still have to go to work and exercise the horses but it’s hard for everyone not to have an official date when it’s going to come back.”
For the time being, racing in Australia is set to continue. Racing Victoria and Racing New South Wales suspended racing earlier this week while jockey Mark Zahra awaited test results to see if he had contracted coronavirus. Zahra has since tested negative.
Marquand’s stint will continue for the foreseeable future and his plan remains to stay out to continue riding, having gained invaluable experience by competing in a different country. If a decision is made to suspend racing, the jockey will return to Britain.
He said: “You’re going into a different weighing room where you might not know anyone apart from one or two people. It’s very different in the way you have to ride but it matures you both as a jockey and a person.”