THE wonder Down Under Tom Marquand will be hoping to get his hands on more Aussie dollars tomorrow.
The leading jockey has enjoyed a golden winter in Australia with prize money north of £1.5 million and plenty of big winners.
He bagged his first Group 1 aboard William Haggas’ Addeybb last month and he teams up with the same horse on Saturday in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick.
The 1m2f contest is one of the biggest in the Australian calendar and, as has been the case for the last four weeks, it will be held behind closed doors.
But the eerie atmosphere at Sydney’s racecourses hasn’t affected Marquand, 21, who has gone down a storm with Aussie punters.
Marquand told Sun Racing: “Everyone in Australian racing has been very supportive and kind to me, and the punters seem to have taken to me which is an honour!
“It has obviously been strange riding at these big meetings for the last few weeks with no crowds but we have become used to it.”
As for Addeybb, who was second to Magical in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October, he heads into Saturday’s race in good form.
Marquand continued: “I’ve only sat on him once since his win at Rosehill but he is in great nick and we go into Saturday as happy as we can be with him.
“It was massive that he won the Group 1 three weeks ago and the horse he beat came out and obliterated a good field on her next start.
“It’s nice to get an idea of where you stand with the rest of the field, the only unknown in there is the Japanese horse Danon Premium, but he has been off the track for six months.
“The more rain the better for us, but we can’t be too fussy. Everything has gone to plan up to this point and he won well enough on ground that was quicker than ideal last time.”
Marquand gained his first Group 1 win on Addeybb last month[/caption]
Fellow Haggas stablemate Young Rascal has also made a big impression in Sydney, winning on the same afternoon as Addeybb in the Manion Cup.
He is a leading fancy in the Sydney Cup, and Marquand reckons the horse will relish the two-mile trip.
He said: “He showed real guts to win his prep and I thought his staying quality really shone through in the last furlong and a half. He had to dig deep for me.
“Going up to two miles makes me feel more confident about him, it’ll suit him more than the other race last month. We have a penalty to carry but he has a massive chance.
“It’s been nuts out here. I came out here last year and had an alright time of it so thought I’d come back this year, and for whatever reason it has just taken off this time. I’ve had some brilliant support and ridden plenty of winners.
“William sending the two horses down here has proven to be a great decision on his behalf, it’s not easy or cheap to send horses abroad. I’ve just been in the right place at the right time.”
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It remains to be seen when racing will be able to restart in the UK, with the BHA still aiming for a resumption on 1 May.
But having been away from girlfriend and fellow rider Hollie Doyle, as well as friends and family, for a number of months, Marquand is aiming to get home as soon as he can, racing or no racing.
He said: “Thankfully the coronavirus hasn’t affected what I’m doing too much. I’m still riding two or three days a week, obviously with restrictions in place.
“Everyone in Australia is taking it seriously and being responsible to ensure we can keep racing going behind closed doors.
“I’m speaking to Hollie every day and I’m in touch with the rest of my family regularly like always when I ride away from home.
“It’s far from ideal for everyone and it’s a case of everyone trying to get through as best they can.
“I’m booked up on a return flight home on the 18 April. It’s the last day of the big ‘Championships’ so I want to get home as soon as I can after that.
“There are still flights leaving Australia, a few people have had theirs cancelled and have had a struggle to get home, so fingers crossed it all goes smoothly next week.”