Magic Marquand and Quickthorn make Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup rivals disappear

Horse Racing | Press Article 17/04/24

Tom Marquand produced one of the rides of the season as he steered 16/1 shot Quickthorn to a stunning six-length success in the G1 Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup.

After poaching a sizeable early advantage, Marquand judged the fractions to perfection as his mount kept on rolling, and it was clear from some way out that Quickthorn had his first G1 prize in the bag.

It was a performance reminiscent of Quickthorn's runaway 14-length success in last season’s G2 Lonsdale Cup at York, a crown he may well try and defend later this month.

Emily Dickinson (9/2) plugged on to grab second under Ryan Moore, a short-head in front of Coltrane (3/1) in a blanket finish to the minor places.

Marquand said: “Quickthorn is a warrior in his own right. I've had a bit of fun on him before and today was about riding him to his maximum potential. He just loves bowling away and putting everyone else to the sword – it was an exceptional performance.

“There's no masterplan with him, it's plain and simple what he's going to do. Down at the gates Frankie [Dettori] looked across and laughed and said 'Are you going to drop in?' because everybody knows what he's going to do and they still can't stop him. It is testament to how good he is.

“It's great for Lord and Lady Blyth [owners] because they have had a lot of fun with this horse and other horses. They are very passionate owners and breeders and you want them to find horses like this. It makes the game fun.

“I didn't look behind because there's no point. We know what this chap can do and if the gap had been closed at the two marker I was going to be in trouble so it was just a case of keeping him stepping forward.

“You would be doing other riders a disservice [if you criticised them]. If I was in behind I would have done the same - he's a relentless galloper and you think no horse can keep that up. It's easy to say in hindsight, but I wouldn't be putting down other riders in behind; I would be giving this lad credit for going such a gallop.”

On whether it was the plan to go that far clear, he added: “It’s a case of going and finding a rhythm and wherever that puts you, it puts you. Obviously we showed that in the Lonsdale Cup last year and it just feels like the right way to ride him. Thankfully I got it right today.

“Once I lit him up at the three pole, it was evident that we were going to get home – it was just whether something would have exceptional ability to come and catch him. It’s a nice feeling to go to that sort of race with that amount of stamina underneath you. Big performance.”

Winning trainer Hughie Morrison said: “It is fantastic for James and Pam [Blyth, owners]; they bred Quickthorn and it’s fantastic to see they kept him and owned him. They have been very patient with him, and we’ve got our rewards. I felt that York last year when he won by 14 lengths was no fluke, and he proved it today.

“Jason [Hart] did absolutely nothing wrong last time over a slightly shorter distance on faster ground – he basically did the same thing. Tom got the seconds fantastically and gave him a breather at the top of the hill, but really, you have to say, what a horse.

“We don’t have a huge amount of horses – 50 or 60 horses – and it’s fantastic to train these homebreds, really, and to be able to bring them on so they reach their zenith at the right sort of age. We’ve had a Grade One and a Group One winner, and not many people have done that.

“I was quite excited going up the hill, because we saw what he did last year. I’ve always felt he needed a bit of juice in the ground. His autumn flops in the last couple of years – I think he’s just gone over the top. You can see, he puts so much into it that he deserves to go over the top at some point.

“Quickthorn is a galloper. He’s fantastic to train, because he goes past you every morning like a three-mile chaser. Every other horse has to do about three strides for his one.

“Tom got the fractions fantastically right, as he did at York last year. Jason [Hart] got it exactly right at York [in June] and I thank him for giving him such a fantastic ride last time. We all know how to ride him to his strengths - he’s a galloper, pure and simple, and we’re lucky to have him.”

Quickthorn’s owner Lady Blyth said: “It is amazing, because we’ve never had a Group One winner before, not ever, ever, ever, so this is absolutely fantastic. I didn’t even think he’d be going here – I didn’t think he’d like the up and down bits, I thought he only wanted it flat. I didn’t want to run him, but Hughie wanted to and my husband was keen – I was afraid of the track. These were my mother’s colours, so they were in action before I married my husband. I’ve had horses for 40 or 50 years.”

Coltrane’s rider Oisin Murphy said: “It was obvious in the first furlong that Lone Eagle, Tashkhan and Broome – those horses you’d expect to go forward – weren’t going forward, so I changed my plan and decided to let Coltrane roll down to the first turn.

“I thought Tom was very clever round those sharp bends, he allowed Quickthorn to really slip on. You can only go so fast around those turns, because they are quite sharp, and by the time we turned to go back uphill, he had a sizeable advantage.

“He [Quickthorn] had to use up a fair bit of energy albeit basically going downhill to get away from us. But often you pay for that sort of ride and in the last furlong I wasn’t sure if he would stop completely, but I probably cost myself second position by trying to close the gap from three down.

“Quickthorn has a massive pair of lungs and covers so much ground, so he has enough pace to get away from a high-class field. I was aware of what could happen, and he was still able to do it.”

4.35pm Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup (Group 1) (British Champions Series)

1 Quickthorn (Lady Blyth) Hughie Morrison 6-9-11 Tom Marquand 16/1
2 Emily Dickinson (S Magnier/M Tabor/D Smith/Westerberg) AidanO’Brien IRE 4-9-08 Ryan Moore 9/2
3 Coltrane (Mick & Janice Mariscotti) Andrew Balding 6-9-11 Oisin Murphy 3/1
11 ran 2/1 fav Courage Mon Ami (6th)

Hughie Morrison – 5th Qatar Goodwood Festival winner
Tom Marquand – 10th Qatar Goodwood Festival winner

About QIPCO British Champions Series:
QIPCO British Champions Series showcases 35 of the UK’s finest Flat races, including three of the world’s top five. The Series features at all of the UK’s most iconic Flat festivals, from the Derby, St Leger and York’s Ebor Festival, to Glorious Goodwood and Royal Ascot, presenting unparalleled, quality racing across 10 of the country’s finest racecourses.

The Series includes world-class sporting action across five different categories – Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Fillies & Mares.

Five top-class races mark the climax of the Series on the Ultimate Raceday, QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday 21st October, where the world’s best compete at the nation’s richest raceday.

Put simply, QIPCO British Champions Series shines the spotlight on the best horses, the best jockeys and the best racecourses, so that millions worldwide can follow the finest Flat racing.

For more info on QIPCO British Champions Series and Day visit