By Nicholas Godfrey
Australia: Tom Marquand’s decision to spend the British winter in Sydney continues to reap impressive rewards as the 21-year-old landed the richest win of his career on Wednesday with Prime Star in the Inglis Millennium – a restricted Listed sales race with a A$2 million (£1.04m) purse.
No sooner had former champion apprentice Marquand revealed plans to return to Australia next month to ride in the Golden Slipper, the world’s most valuable two-year-old race, than he landed the 1,100-metre feature at Warwick Farm, rescheduled to Wednesday after Saturday’s programme was abandoned owing to waterlogging.
With odds-on favourite Celisabeel scratched on the morning of the race, the way was left clear for 17-1 shot Prime Star to land the spoils as the two-year-old, trained by Richard and Michael Freedman, scored by a half-neck over Bella Nipotina with Larimer Star another three-quarters of. a length away in third in a tight finish.
“To be fair, it was in the lap of the gods today as to what handled the ground,” said Marquand, speaking to AAP Racing. “Credit where credit’s due, they brought the horse here and were ballsy enough to give it a go and it’s paid off.”
Marquand has ridden 17 winners in Australia this season. He is set to return to Britain after this weekend’s meeting at Randwick at the end of a seven-week spell in Sydney, where he has impressed the locals.
The highlight of his stay was a G3 double on Magic Millions winner Away Game and Prague at Randwick on February 1; he is set to return to Sydney again for at least a week to partner one of them for trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace n the A$3.5m Golden Slipper on March 21.
“I was pretty annoyed on Friday and Saturday, thinking I should have called it quits while I was ahead,” Marquand added. “Every cloud has a silver lining doesn’t it? There’s not many (A$2m races) about in England.
“There are some massive targets and while I’m getting the opportunities I may as well make hay while the sun shines.”