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‘Solid chance’ for Marquand to make Guineas impact this weekend

‘Solid chance’ for Marquand to make Guineas impact this weekend
‘Solid chance’ for Marquand to make Guineas impact this weekend

Tom Marquand is confident Iberian and Porta Fortuna have what it takes to make their presence felt in their respective bids for Guineas glory at Newmarket this weekend.

Four years on from breaking his Classic duck aboard the Joseph O’Brien-trained Galileo Chrome in a behind-closed-doors St Leger at Doncaster, the leading rider is delighted to have a chance of “swinging the bat” in both the Qipco 2000 Guineas on Saturday and the 1000 Guineas 24 hours later.

The Charlie Hills-trained Iberian won two of his first three starts last season, most notably seeing of a pair of subsequent Group One winners in Sunway and Rosallion in the Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in September.

Having subsequently bounced back to his best with victory in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, Rosallion is widely considered the biggest threat to red-hot favourite City Of Troy in the colts’ Classic, whereas Iberian is a 25-1 shot after failing to fire behind the latter in the Dewhurst Stakes in October.

However, Marquand is happy to forgive the Lope De Vega colt one disappointing performance and believes he can outrun his odds after delighting connections in a racecourse gallop at the Craven meeting last month.

“He showed up to a good level on a couple of occasions last season and was probably most impressive in the Champagne. He’s got a good turn of foot and I galloped him on the racecourse the other day and he felt great,” he said.

“Without that last run, he probably wouldn’t be the price that he is. He’s a nice-sized horse so you’d like to think improvement will come from a winter under his belt and I’m looking forward to getting back on board him.

Iberian after galloping at Newmarket
Iberian after galloping at Newmarket (Adam Morgan/PA)

“To be perfectly honest I think he’s pretty versatile with ground. I’ve galloped him on faster ground and when I rode him in the Champagne it was quite hard work that day. I think his run in the Dewhurst was more down to the fact he’d danced a couple of big dances and it might have just caught up with him.

“I’d like to think he’ll run a big race, he’s put Rosallion, who is one of the big talking horses in the Guineas, behind him before. Obviously they thought Rosallion underperformed at Doncaster, but it still gives you a bit of confidence that the form has held up and the Champagne winner going into their three-year-old season is something to look forward to.”

In the fillies’ version, Marquand is set to partner Donnacha O’Brien’s Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Porta Fortuna for the first time.

The daughter of Caravaggio’s stamina is not assured, but she was only beaten half a length into second over a turning mile in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita on her most recent outing and Marquand feels the fact she is already a Group One winner on the track is a huge positive.

He added: “It’s a massive ride to pick up. That course form counts for plenty, as we all know, and she was only beaten half a length in America, which was obviously a great run.

“It’s great to be getting the leg-up on what is a class filly. There is a question mark about the trip, but Newmarket is a track where if you don’t have enough speed equally you’re in trouble.

“She’ll need to prove she stays over a straight mile, hopefully she can.”

Porta Fortuna (right) winning the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket
Porta Fortuna (right) winning the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

Following another profitable winter campaign in Australia, Marquand admits it would be the perfect start to the British season if he can bag one of this weekend’s Rowley Mile Classics.

“We all look at this meeting as when our really busy period starts and the two Guineas are the first real ‘biggies’ that you come across at the start of the season,” he said.

“It’s hard to find horses for races like that and I’m hoping that I’ve found two that will at least give me a solid chance of swinging the bat in both races.”

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