He’s looking to end a whirlwind year on a high in the International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) at Happy Valley next week and Tom Marquand says anyone that doesn’t want to test their wares in Hong Kong is “nuts”.
After winning his first four Group One races in 2020 – two during the Australian autumn and two in Britain more recently – Marquand has gone on to post his highest win tally in a calendar year of 137 and can’t wait to join a crack line-up in Hong Kong.
“We’re coming over as a select bunch to take on the Hong Kong jockeys on their home ground, which in sports terms is a pretty hard thing to do and is half the thrill in it,” he said.
Nice one @TomMarquand— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 27, 2020
He has just surpassed a career best with Companionship's victory being his 137th winner of the year & he also pays tribute to girlfriend @HollieDoyle1 winning the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the year earlier this week pic.twitter.com/7Cxbcj9tlN
“Hong Kong has some of the best racing in the world and some of the best horses in the world, which means some of the best trainers and jockeys are there as well. If you don’t want to go somewhere like that and compete, you’re nuts.”
Along with household names Ryan Moore, Pierre-Charles Boudot, William Buick and Mickael Barzalona, Marquand will be joined by his partner Hollie Doyle in the six-strong international contingent for the IJC.
The childhood sweethearts lit up British Champions Day in October, winning four of the six races between them, and Marquand says that performance put them on the map as racing’s new power couple.
“After Champions Day everything was all Hollie and Tom, whereas before we were sort of always individuals,” he said.
“It’s pretty mad that both of us are coming to Hong Kong, it’s amazing how it’s come together and obviously we’re both absolutely buzzing to come over.”
Marquand doesn’t expect competing against his better half in the unique setting of the IJC to throw up any curveballs – “we ride against each other pretty much every day” – but he knows he’ll have to be on his game to negotiate the tight-turning Happy Valley track.
“I’m really looking forward to getting over there and seeing some of the differences because it’s a pretty big contrast to riding at a track like Newmarket or Ascot – big galloping, open tracks,” he said.
“We’ll both be watching plenty of replays and talking to plenty of people and just trying to get a heads-up on what to expect. Everywhere you go has it’s own little idiosyncrasies and if you can learn them before you go, happy days.”
Marquand and the rest of the international riders will arrive in Hong Kong via private jet on Monday and the 22-year-old is working on securing a ride at the international day meeting on December 13.
After a flying trip to Hong Kong, Marquand will return to the United Kingdom for Christmas before setting his sights on another raid of the Australian autumn.
During a stint that yielded Group One victories aboard Addeybb in the Ranvet Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Marquand was affectionately dubbed “Aussie Tom” and he’s hoping for a repeat of a trip that “exceeded all expectations”.
Marquand and the William Haggas-trained Addeybb – who the jockey also partnered to victory in the Group One Champion Stakes at Ascot in October – will again head Down Under in unison in 2021, with April’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes the grand final once more.