YOU can stick Tom Marquand in the same bracket as Ronnie Biggs and his pals.
Because the top jockey pulled off one of the great daylight robberies aboard Quickthorn in the Qatar Goodwood Cup.
There is one big difference… Biggs got caught.
‘Mugger’ Marquand was never in danger of being nabbed by his pursuers.
This was the heist to end all heists – not that his horse is a mug, by any means.
After all, he boasts a couple of Group 2 wins and a host of big-race near-misses on his rock-solid CV.
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But this was a deep Group 1, with the first and second from the Ascot Gold Cup in Courage Mon Ami and Coltrane, as well the St Leger winner Eldar Eldarov, in opposition.
No doubt, Marquand’s colleagues were guilty of complacency.
Every man and his dog knew what Quickthorn was going to do – which makes it all the more baffling that they were content to let Marquand stride clear aboard Hughie Morrison’s 16-1 shot.
At the halfway point Quickthorn was at least 10 lengths ahead, and you could probably double that advantage as he began the sweeping downhill run for home.
By now, it was squeaky bum time for those in behind as Quickthorn’s backside was still a speck on the horizon.
Realisation had set in a quarter of a mile from home that Marquand had got it spot on – as he did last year when pulling off similar tactics in the Lonsdale Cup at York – and the rest of them horribly wrong.
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And even though Quickthorn was cream crackered in the last knockings, he was still a handsome six lengths clear of Emily Dickinson and Coltrane at the line.
There were some very red-faced beaten jocks afterwards, and even man of the moment Marquand sported a rosy complexion.
That was chiefly from lifting his tired horse home inside the final furlong, but also from the embarrassment of being the centre of attention after his ride of the season contender.
He isn’t a jockey who craves the limelight, but after a performance like that the well-wishers were always going to be queuing around the block.
No-one was more chuffed than top dual purpose trainer Morrison, who gave his jockey a knowing nod and a thumbs up as he returned triumphant.
Morrison said: “What a performance from horse and jockey.
“The horse is a pleasure to train, he comes up the gallops like an old three mile chaser, and every horse has to go three strides to his one.
“He is a relentless galloper and Tom used that to his advantage. I was pretty confident he had the race won at about halfway, because I knew he would keep going.
“Tom is one of the best around and we try to use him whenever he is available.
“There was no fluke about that win, but Tom executed the race perfectly and it’s an absolutely brilliant result for the yard.”
Nice guy Hughie was asked if he would fancy having a crack at Constitution Hill over hurdles with Quickthorn this winter.
He replied: “I don’t think that would be fair to Constitution Hill!”
Earlier on the card, Frankie Dettori banked another chunk of cash for his retirement fund aboard Kinross.
At Goodwood last year, a huge ‘Thank You Stradivarius’ sign was perched on the hill opposite the finishing line ahead of the great horse’s retirement.
Just 12 months on, a ‘Farewell Frankie’ one stood in its place as the clock continues to wind down on the Italian’s career.
But father time hasn’t caught up with him yet and he had to be at his very best to fight off the classy three-year-old Isaac Shelby in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes.
Dettori has a real soft spot for the Ralph Beckett-trained gelding – so much so that he will now put off his retirement until December.
Because he promised the horse’s owner, old pal Marc Chan, that he would ride the gelding in the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin.
Dettori grinned: “I love this horse – he’s my little ATM machine.
“We’ve had some great days together, he is very tough, he loves it at this track and he loves getting his toe in the ground.
“His owner Marc Chan is a good friend of mine and if this horse runs in Hong Kong in December I promised I would go over.
“After that I promise I’m done!”
But even Frankie couldn’t steal the headlines on day one – the spoils belonged to Marquand.
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