LIKE Father Christmas over the festive period, jockey Tom Marquand is a very busy man. The 22-year-old Flat jockey travels across the country on a daily basis, riding multiple horses for a plethora of owners and trainers, making him very hard to pin down for this particular interview.
When we do catch up, Tom has just pulled into Haydock Park Racecourse ahead of a day’s racing. Credit to the young jockey, he makes time to talk over the phone despite being so busy – a nod to his grounded nature. His meteoric rise from promising fledgling to a world-class rider now sees him sitting third in the jockey championship race. Success at such a young age could easily result in a sudden ego, but Tom’s ability to keep his feet on the ground is something he is respected for – he comes across as personable and hard-working.
Tom is talented in his own right, but he is also one half of a power duo. With jockey girlfriend Hollie Doyle riding into the history books herself, breaking the British record for winners ridden in a year by a woman, these two are a force to be reckoned with.
H&H talks to Tom on the eve of QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot, the grand finale of the Flat racing season in this country. Just over 24 hours later, Tom and Hollie have made headlines, taking four of the six races between them – a double and a Group One race each – defining themselves as racing’s golden couple.
Tom’s own riding career turned a corner in the spring when he claimed two Group Ones in Australia, during which Britain was in national lockdown. While Covid-19 dampened 2020 for many, Tom’s year was only going to get better. With the return of racing in June, he went on to clinch his first Classic victory on home turf – aboard Galileo Chrome in Doncaster’s Group One feature, the St Leger Stakes, in September. It was also a catch ride for Tom, who was originally booked to ride English King in the big race. However, the horse was rerouted last minute to a race in Paris instead.
The twist of fortune came when Galileo Chrome’s regular jockey, Shane Crosse, tested positive for coronavirus before his flight to the UK from Ireland and he was forced into isolation for 14 days.
Tom was then the “lucky” jockey to get legged up on the Joseph O’Brien-trained colt, while Shane watched the race on the TV in despair as Tom steered the three-year-old to a neck victory in the Classic.
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