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Tom Marquand chases more LONGINES IJC success

December 6, 2023 at 4:13:52 AM

Tom Marquand took home the LONGINES International Jockeys Challenge at Happy Valley last year and the decorated British rider is looking forward to experiencing the city track in all its glory as he bids to retain his crown on Wednesday evening (6 December).

Marquand, who arrived in Hong Kong following another successful stint in Japan, shared the honours with Silvestre de Sousa last year and returns with another strong book of rides.

“This is the first year coming here without any restrictions,” said the 25-year-old jockey who, alongside wife Hollie Doyle, will represent Great Britain. “Last year was a bit turbulent but it’s fantastic to be back. It was great to win with Silvestre. You’d always rather win it on your own but it’s better to take it home with someone else than not at all.

“It looks like I’ve got a good enough book of rides that if things fall right it could all happen again, but it’s a tough evening of racing and it’s highly competitive.”

Local jockeys with knowledge of both the track and horses hold a considerable advantage in the event according to Marquand, who believes the quality of riders and strict interference rules combine to create an especially enjoyable event.

“When you come over to Hong Kong it’s people like Zac Purton’s stomping ground,” he said. “The local boys technically have track advantage so you have to do everything you can to make sure that doesn’t come into play and not miss a beat all evening, which is hard.

“Riding at Happy Valley is a pretty unique experience and if you adopted an English racing style over here you would be sat last with nowhere to go with a furlong out. Every time you come back you learn something new. It’s sharp but super fair.

“The interference rules are so strict so you have to be on it and you have some of the best jockeys in the world riding, so it’s ridiculously tight racing but to a really high level so it makes it fun to ride. The stakes are pretty high, too.”

Marquand will be hoping to alleviate some of the pressure in the opening leg, a Class 4 handicap over 1000m, in which he will partner the Caspar Fownes-trained Galvanic.

The four-year-old is favourably drawn in stall three and his sixth place over 1200m at the track last time can be upgraded as he expended plenty of energy early on in an attempt to negate his wide draw.

“He didn’t get the best trip around last time,” Marquand said. “He’d been running well previously, he’s got a good draw and my first three rides are good. My last ride is probably the weakest of them but at Happy Valley you never know.”

Marquand and Fownes will also team up in the second leg, a Class 4 handicap over 1650m, with Killer Instinct. The rider will be aboard Splendid Living in the third leg, a Class 3 race over the same trip, and Golden Empire in the finale, a Class 3 handicap over 1200m.

Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Officer Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges welcomed the stellar 12-jockey line-up at a special ceremony at Tai Kwun tonight (5 December).

“The IJC is renowned for assembling the world’s best jockeys for a spectacular night of racing at Happy Valley and, this Wednesday, promises to be no exception.

“We have four former LONGINES IJC champions in this year’s series – Ryan Moore, Zac Purton, Karis Teetan and Tom Marquand – as well as two winners of the LONGINES World’s Best Jockey Award – Ryan and James McDonald – as part of a truly elite 12-rider field,” Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

“As a measure of the quality of the riders competing in the LONGINES IJC this week, they have collectively won almost 18,000 races crowned by 437 Group 1s including Breeders Cups, l’Arc de Triomphe, Derbies, Melbourne Cups and also Hong Kong’s greatest races.

“It is a privilege to host such a distinguished group of elite athletes over the next five days when LONGINES IJC and LONGINES Hong Kong International Races will showcase Hong Kong to the world.

“International competition is a wonderful event through which Hong Kong is able to showcase its incredible beauty and vibrancy as a truly international city, not to mention it’s inimitable ‘Can-do spirit.’ We are grateful to the jockeys who will compete on Wednesday night in the LONGINES IJC and also the support of our trainers in providing quality mounts across the four legs of the series.

The LONGINES International Jockeys Challenge takes place at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, 6 December.

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