By Ray Hickson
Tom Marquand says the door is well and truly open for him to return to Sydney for the Golden Slipper and The Championships.
Despite calls from fans on social media for him to stay, the popular visiting UK hoop’s second Sydney stint comes to an end on February 15 when he returns home to prepare for the English flat season.
However, a two-year-old Group 3 double on Prague and Away Game last Saturday has whet the appetite for potential rides in the rich Group 1 races approaching.
“It's a tricky one because as the Championships are warming up it's getting to the start of our season,’’ he said.
“But opportunities don't come by too often to ride horses like those and if my services were wanted for races like the Golden Slipper I'd be straight back on a plane.
“Group 1 rides are hard to come by at the best of times. I've got pretty lucky pretty quickly I think.’’
Since arriving on January 4 the 21-year-old has had 74 rides for 14 wins including a $51 upset for John O’Shea, the man responsible for introducing Marquand to Sydney.
O’Shea provides Marquand with his best winning chance at Randwick on Wednesday in the promising three-year-old Sea Of Life.
“When I arrived (last year) and no-one knew my name, John had to introduce me to trainers,’’ he said.
“It's a satisfying thing to get to the point I am now, I've only come over short of a couple of months and people have the faith in me to ride their nice horses on a Saturday and to be able to repay them with winners is even better.’’
Sea Of Life has recorded three placings from as many starts and Marquand is keen to square the leger in the Bisley Workwear Handicap (1400m) after a narrow defeat first-up two weeks ago.
The gelding came from last, Punter's Intelligence showing he ran easily the fastest last 600m of the race (36.20), to finish second behind Rammstein at Canterbury.
Marquand said he expects Sea Of Life, $2.80 favourite with TAB, to be a lot sharper on Wednesday, the horse wasn’t the best out of the gates and dropped the bit when things got a bit tight back in the field.
“He didn't have the sharpness about him, it took a while to work our way into the race,’’ he said.
“Once he got running he hit the line hard, it all pointed in the right direction for next time.
“I knew he had plenty of ability, half way up the straight I thought I was going to get there but the winner kept pulling out plenty.
Sea Of Life runs second at Canterbury on January 22
“Fortunately I'm back on him again before I go and hopefully I can get some redemption. I would be pretty disappointed if he wasn't going close.’’
Four of Marquand’s 14 winners in the past month have been for O’Shea and they will pair up in four races at Randwick on Wednesday.
Two-year-old Tommy Gold gave the jockey a positive vibe in a recent trial ahead of what looks a strong Astern @ Darley Handicap (1100m) where he’s an $11 chance.
“John's horses are in great order, the ones that aren't winning are going close,’’ he said.
“He didn’t have a lot of luck at his first start but he trialled nicely and he's a horse with plenty of ability.’’