Tom Marquand is rarely seen without a smile on his face. And with good reason. He’s one of Britain’s top jockeys, enjoyed landmark moments in 2020 and is engaged to fellow top jockey Hollie Doyle.
Neither Marquand or Doyle will ever forget the 2020 edition of QIPCO British Champions Day. Both rode sparkling doubles, having previously never ridden a winner at the prestige meeting.
Marquand struck on the William Haggas-trained Addeybb in the QIPCO Champion Stakes and then won the closing Balmoral Handicap on Njord for Jessica Harrington. Earlier in the year, he had enjoyed two Group 1 triumphs on Addeybb in Australia.
“He travelled like a true good horse throughout the race and to be honest when I started getting going, I just bombed the straight,” Marquand said. “It is remarkable, I’ve never ridden a horse like him. He goes over ground that’s as bad as you can get and he makes it feel like you are on quick ground. That is why he’s so good on it.
“It is just incredible. He has shown that he is top-class in Australia and come here today and has torn the field apart, beating the likes of Magical. You have to be a champion to do that.”
The previous month Marquand had won the Pertemps St Leger on Galileo Chrome (above) for Joseph O’Brien. He had only been given the ride the previous day, when jockey Shane Crosse tested positive for Covid-19.
Earlier in the summer, Marquand had finished runner-up in the Investec Derby on 50/1 chance Khalifa Sat. He ended the year with 147 winners, having chalked up 136 in 2019.
Not every champion apprentice rises to the next level but Marquand, who took that crown in 2015, has made the transition.
He spent his childhood near Cheltenham and, although not from a racing background, grew up around horses. After pony racing and riding out for local trainers, he joined the Wiltshire yard of trainer Richard Hannon as an apprentice at the age of 16. He has never looked back.