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Ayr Gold Cup win on Nahaarr highlight of another super Saturday for Marquand

What a week. Tom Marquand followed up a breakthrough Classic success at Doncaster with a historic victory in Scotland's biggest race to land a gamble labelled "horrendous" by one bookmaker.

The man who came off the subs' bench to lift the St Leger on Galileo Chrome last weekend was the toast of punters across Britain as he completed a double last achieved 101 years ago by winning the QTS Ayr Gold Cup on heavily-backed favourite Nahaarr.

That was the middle leg of an treble, all trained by William Haggas at a track where he had never previously ridden a winner, which kicked off with success on old friend and Champion Stakes hope Addeybb in the Doonside Cup.

Ayr is nearly 400 miles from the Hungerford home Marquand shares with partner and fellow highflying jockey Hollie Doyle, whose father Mark did the steering on the long haul north. 

"A seven-hour drive for two big winners and to ride horses like this is more of a pleasure than a chore," Marquand said.

"It's been a cracking week. I'm lucky to get the right opportunities. I can't stress enough how lucky I am to be getting all of them. 

"It's a tough game, there's a lot of people trying to achieve the same thing and I'm relatively young and new to it all. It's a tough job and when the good days come you've got to cherish them."

Nahaarr had finished ninth when favourite for the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood last month, but that did not stop punters piling in again on the sprinter, who was a best-priced 8-1 overnight but went off 7-2 market leader for one of the biggest betting races of the year.

His jockey had learned from Goodwood and took his time weaving his way through the 24-runner field.

"The plan was to get him back out of the gates so he didn't go through the race tanking the whole way – on this ground you don't want to be spending any more energy than you can afford," he said. 

"He relaxed beautifully and as I started to work my way in he was travelling so well I was stuck behind about six and couldn't find a way through. In a big handicap you need a horse that travels well and as soon as half a gap appeared he was straight through and out the other side, powerful to the line and through it as well.

"In races like this you have to bide your time and hope for a bit of luck and if it doesn't work it doesn't work. But William has taught me how to ride on the bigger days – in the Stewards' Cup on this lad I probably sat a bit too close and I learned my lesson that day."

His half-length victory was a blow to the bookmakers, and Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: "Any time the favourite wins a big betting heat like the Ayr Gold Cup is likely to be bad for the books, but punters got behind Nahaarr in no uncertain terms today. He emulated his backers' enthusiasm with a marvellous turn of foot to produce a pretty horrendous result for us."

Addeybb, who gave Marquand his first top-level successes in Australia in the spring and confirmed his high class with a second place in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, earlier warmed up for the Qipco Champion Stakes with a Listed success.

Those victories on the other side of the world meant the six-year-old had to concede 7lb to each of his rivals in the Jordan Electrics Doonside Cup, and he was being pushed along three furlongs out on this first run for three months.

However, his class told as he eased his way through the field to lead over a furlong out and hold Lord Glitters off by three-quarters of a length.

Marquand said: "That race has done exactly as I guess William would have hoped. I don't think he quite realised he was back at the races until the two-pole. But he's a dual Group 1 winner, he had to give a lot of weight away to a couple of decent horses and he's done it as well as we can have expected to do so. 

"I know it was only a Listed today, but he was giving 7lb away to horses like Lord Glitters and the race was probably run to get him beat – we didn't go over-hard and he had to fight his way through, but he's done so as you'd expect a Group 1 winner to do. I was delighted with him.

"Probably one of his main attributes is that he only turns it on when he has to, hence he's able to go over the other side of the world and not waste a button of energy until the big day. I hope this leads him well into Champions Day."

Addeybb remains a 10-1 chance for the Champion Stakes, and Marquand said: "All roads lead to there, I just hope everything goes to plan." 

Marquand's day got even better when he completed a treble on Johan in the 1m handicap, but there were no plans to push the boat out when he finally got home.

"We're not big celebraters," he said. "After the Leger we just had a bit of dinner and that was it.

"Tomorrow I'm back on the all-weather at Chelmsford and I hope I'll have a few more winners, that will do!"

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