Marcus brings down curtain on 'dream' career

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 March, 2002, 12:00am

Basil Marcus yesterday confirmed his retirement from the saddle, but there was no fairytale ending as he finished unplaced in the Derby on Super Molly. Even so, the South African was typically upbeat after bringing down the curtain on a career which netted him seven Hong Kong championships and a host of big races among his record 671 winners, including the 1997 Derby with Oriental Express.

'That's it, I've finished now,' said Marcus, 45, finally confirming the worst-kept secret in racing following a brief farewell ceremony organised by the Jockey Club. 'For me, it was a dream finish to a dream career just being part of the Derby occasion for my final day. I have great memories of Derby Day and today has been very special too.'

Marcus flew home to England last night to be reunited with his wife Debbie and sons Glenn and Adam. The now ex-jockey said he had still made no plans for his next career move, including the possibility of taking up training. 'Honestly, I haven't made any decisions about the future. I am going to go home and see where life takes me,' he said. 'The only firm plan I have at the moment is that I will be going with Adam later this week on his school cricket tour to Kenya. Then I'll take it easy and see what comes along.'

A large section of the 39,000-strong crowd remained behind at the end of racing to give Marcus a rousing farewell and the popular champion was also showered with presents and good wishes from Jockey Club officials and his weighing-room colleagues.

'The most important thing is to thank you, the racing public,' Marcus told the crowd. 'You are the people who have supported me all these years since I arrived here in 1990. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the owners, trainers and stewards of the Jockey Club who have allowed me to stay here all these years.'

Marcus came closest to a final-day victory with Charming City, who was beaten around a length into third place in the Centenary Sprint Cup behind Firebolt. 'Charming City was fantastic, he ran a great race, and 300 metres out I thought I was going to win,' Marcus said without a hint of regret over what might have been. 'Of course, it would have been nice to have a winner for David Hayes, who has been such a big part of my success in Hong Kong, but it wasn't to be.'

Marcus also teamed up with Hayes to ride Super Molly in the Derby, but the pairing could manage only seventh. The jockey was adamant the gelding's suspect stamina was not to blame for the disappointing display. 'I don't think you could say he doesn't stay based on that run because the pace was the problem,' he said. 'The tempo was too slow for him and he was too keen in the early stages, that's why he didn't have anything left in the last 200 metres. The tempo of a mile race probably suits him better, but I think he could stay 2,000 metres if the tempo was right and he was nice and relaxed.'