Tom Marquand is looking forward to testing the Classic credentials of “beautiful model” Al Mubhir in the feature bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket on Wednesday , as he launches his bid to be crowned champion jockey for the first time later this month.
The 24 year old hopes the William Haggas-trained colt can give him the perfect boost in the mile feature race, before starting his quest to secure the Flat Jockeys’ Championship which gets underway on the second day of Newmarket’s QIPCO Guineas Festival on Saturday 30th April.
It has already been a busy Spring away from the track for Marquand, who married fellow rider Hollie Doyle last month and now turns his attention to helping the son of Frankel add to his debut success on the Rowley Mile in the Group Three prize on day two of the bet365 Craven Meeting.
He said: “I’ve not been around for the Craven Meeting for the last couple of seasons. Last year I was out in Australia with Addeybb and I watched Sacred win the Nell Gwyn, then we had the Covid outbreak the year before when I was still out in Australia.
“It is definitely a different feeling being around this time of the year as I’ve been a bit detached from it the last couple of years.
“Al Mubhir looks really good. The fact he came through and won a Newmarket maiden was impressive in itself. He has done really well through the winter. He is a beautiful model anyway. but he has done well for having that break.
“It is a stiff task second time out to try and win a Craven but there is a reason he is in there and that is because William likes him and the team likes him.
“I jumped on him the other day at home and he felt great. That was the first time I sat on him and it made me look forward to this.
“As so often those Newmarket maidens turn out to be good little races and he didn’t beat a load of trees.”
Al Mubhir will have to lower the colors of last season’s champion two year old Native Trail, who ended his unbeaten campaign with victory in the Group One Darley Dewhurst Stakes at the track and Marquand admits it will be an “interesting” clash.
He added: “No Craven is an easy mission but especially this year with Native Trail pitched in there. You never know how horses have taken the winter until they step on the race track.
“I guess we will see how he has done when we get to the Craven. He was a champion last year and he might be a champion again this year.
“As so many people often say there is no point running away from one horse. It will be interesting. Our lad will be learning on the job a little bit and hopefully we will learn a bit more about him at the same time and what will be will be with Native Trail.”
Although on form Al Mubhir has a bit to find with a number of his rivals, Marquand feels both the step up in trip and his proven course form are big positives.
He added: “It is massive that he has already won at the Rowley Mile. The most common excuse for jockeys riding at the Rowley Mile is that they didn’t handle the dip.
“It is not a given against this grade of horses that it won’t be a problem but at least you know he is balanced enough to go on and get through it.
“They will be stretching them by the time they hit the dip but at least you can have that bit of confidence that he should be able to carry himself nicely through it and come out the other side of it.
“He should love going up to the mile. There might even be the possibility he gets another a furlong or two but that remains to be seen. A mile is certainly a step in the right direction for him.”
Before getting the leg-up aboard Al Mubhir the 2015 champion conditional jockey will partner his stablemate Perfect News in this afternoon’s Group Three Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes over seven furlongs.
The daughter of Frankel signed off last season finishing third over course and distance at the same level behind Fast Attack in the Godolphin Lifetime Care Oh So Sharp Stakes.
He said: “She has got the experience and course form as well which is great and she has done well through the winter too which is great. I’ve not sat on her this year but I’ve seen her and galloped with her and she looks in great form.
“She is a beautiful filly that does everything right. I hope she can find improvement stepping forward as she was showing really good form at the end of last season.
“It was the end of the year for her in the Oh So Sharp Stakes and she may just have hit her end point but she was still improving finishing third in that.
“You would be hopeful of a really big run. Hopefully she can prove her 1000 Guineas credentials and all being well that is what will happen, but we know how horseracing goes.”
After finishing third in the Flat Jockeys Championship last year Marquand hopes that he can go two places better this time round, but admits last year’s runner-up William Buick will prove tough to beat.
He added: “As usual I will be keeping my head down and trying to ride as many winners as I can. “It is a tough one with the one meeting rule but you just have to try ride as many winners as you can and do the same the next day.
“William (Buick) will be pretty tough to beat and there will be other people coming into the equation too, but I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the season and seeing where it will take us.”
Graham Clark/The Jockey Club Press Release