By Nick Seddon
Jockey Tom Marquand celebrated a 421-1 four-timer at Haydock Park today, including a horse owned by The Queen who was immediately installed as one of the favourites for next year’s Cazoo Derby.
Her Majesty might not have had a runner in the world’s most famous Flat race at Epsom Downs earlier this month, but her two year old Desert Hero (4-1) was cut to 33-1 for the 2023 renewal after winning impressively on debut this afternoon.
The son of Sea The Stars, from the family of dual Group Two winners Dartmouth and Manatee, was up against several rivals with experience already under their belts. But he showed plenty of professionalism to take control of matters inside the final furlong for trainer William Haggas and jockey Marquand.
The Queen has never won the Derby and while his connections are not getting carried away at this early stage, Haggas’s wife and assistant trainer Maureen believes there was plenty to like about the performance.
She said: “He was good. He has not been that straightforward at home – he was lovely in the winter and then just went off the rails a bit. Andrew Tinkler has been riding him and he’s got him back on track. In the last two weeks he has really got it together but I didn’t expect him to do that.
“A furlong and a half down I thought wherever he finished he’d run a really nice race, because he was relaxed and moved well and it was just nice to watch. He looked a bit surprised afterwards so I don’t know where we’ll go next because you wouldn’t want to throw him into the deep end too soon.
“Everyone wants Her Majesty to win The Derby, so I think you’ll get people looking at anything that is by Sea The Stars and thinking ‘he’ll stay, give him a Derby quote!’”
Winning jockey Tom Marquand added: “He’s a lovely horse and it’s exciting for The Queen because having a two year old first time out winning in that manner is as good as it gets.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him so hopefully he can progress from today. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t, he was a bit green and a bit shy of it all, so there’s certainly progression. How much, I don’t know!”
Marquand is in fine form at the moment and enjoyed a 421.5-1 four-timer on the card this afternoon, also partnering each of Soulcombe (100-30), Substantial (7-2 Co Favourite) and Hamaki (100-30) on the card for Haggas.
Haggas and Marquand have enjoyed a long list of Pattern winners so far this season, which included Group One glory for Alenquer in last month’s Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, while Marquand has ridden six winners in the past two days.
While he would not be drawn into any talk of a potential tilt at the jockeys’ title, the 24 year old said:“When you’re having a large quantity of rides it’s great when things fall into place.
“William’s horses are flying once again and it is great being a part of a team like that – they don’t miss a trick.
“This horse isn’t easy (Substantial) and they changed a couple of bits when it didn’t work the other day and I think that summarises what they do – if there’s a problem they fix it straight away and it’s why they operate at such a brilliant strike-rate and so efficiently.
“To be honest I haven’t been looking at the standings because I’ve been really enjoying the last couple of months. Obviously, you want to ride as many winners as you can but the stakes winners have been just falling left, right and centre and it’s been amazing.
“You can get very caught up on how many winners you’re riding and yet it bears less significance over what you’re riding. It’s been a really good start to the year and if it carries on we’ll be going great.
“It’s great to come here and do that and it’s nice they’re all on William’s horses too – they’re flying at the moment.
“To get four winners on the day is great but it’s always the one that doesn’t win that annoys you and Thunder Legend is that! It would have been nice to have five but four isn’t bad! William’s placed all of these beautifully and it’s easy to win on them when they’re in the right races.”
Meanwhile the Haggas team have a live chance of winning their first trainers’ championship and currently are lying second in the standing behind Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby.
Assistant trainer Maureen Haggas said: “It’s been a great day, they’ve all run well and the horse that was third (Thunder Legend) probably could do with slightly faster ground, but everything ran well and there’s some nice horses so it was nice that it all went right.
“Touch wood, the season keeps going. We’re lucky that we’ve got some nice horses and they’re going well but we’ve also got some very good staff who work really hard. You can’t do it without them and it’s so important.
“Tom is just fantastic and he makes a massive difference, he’s great to work with and talks sense and is probably the strongest jockey riding. He’s top-class and I couldn’t say anything good enough about him because he makes a massive difference and we’re really lucky to have him.”
The Jockey Club Press Release
Photo: credit John Grossick Photography