Young hoop Taylor Marshall shows rare saddle skills

Sleight of hand on Zephyron in the Lord Mayor’s Cup was a feature of Taylor Marshall’s Saturday quartet at Rosehill Gardens.

“Top jockeys overseas do it,” said Ron Quinton, a former champion and now tutor of Marshall.

But Marshall, 21, was making his Saturday-class debut and on Zephyron was taking on listed company, which meant he couldn’t claim his three-kilo allowance, just one of the many incredible aspects concerning his four winners. Flicking the whip through his right-hand fingers to change his action, subtle but effective, was rare for such an inexperienced apprentice.

And this was in the heat of battle against the pump action of Jim Cassidy (I’m Imposing) near the finish over 2000 metres. Three-kilo apprentices win sprints as Marshall did on Pinstripe Lane (third) and Oxford Poet (fourth) but middle-distance races are generally a test of strength and judgment of pace where experience counts.

Rarely, if ever, has an apprentice ridden the winner of the Lord Mayors Cup, let alone one without an allowance, and the honour roll boasts greats from George Moore (Grand Prix 1961) to Nash Rawillier (Moriarty) last year.

In the good old days an apprentice would hardly be given a possible winner on his first Saturday, and as far as the whip was concerned most would be instructed not to pull it.

Quinton says to be best in the saddle, a jockey must use the whip in his left as effectively as his right hand.

“When I started I was right-handed but the boss [Theo Green] got me to carry it around in my left everywhere for months,” Quinton said. "Sam Clipperton [the leading apprentice], too, was only right-handed, but I got him to practise switching it to his left on horses when they are out of contention. He’s good now with both hands.”

Ironically, Taylor’s father John was a top left-hand rider. Of John, Bart Cummings wrote in Bart: My Life: “John was a studious, intense fellow, a patient rider and didn’t have the flamboyance of many jockeys, which suited me just fine”.

Being a late starter could be the key to Taylor. Many apprentices are has-beens by 21 after being too good, too young. With his father’s “studious and intense” nature plus the Quinton direction, he’s in good hands.

Hoysted a true whisperer

Bob Hoysted, who died last week, was a “horse whisperer”, a title that entails perhaps more than even champion racehorse trainer.

Champions win premierships and an abundance of group 1s but a “horse whisperer” forms a special bond.

Such was the affinity between Hoysted and Manikato, rated Australia’s greatest sprinter before Black Caviar. No other horseman could have taken Manikato to such heights. A big, bold-striding gelding, Manikato was plagued with leg problems and nearly died during one race.

Manikato suffered a massive haemorrhage and heart attack in The Galaxy at Randwick (April,1980). Hoysted got him back in January the following year to win his third William Reid Stakes.

Throughout his career the trainer had to manipulate his racing with spells to nurse his dicky legs, but he ended up still being effective as a seven-year-old in top company.

Hoysted, though, wasn’t a one-horse trainer and worked wonders with Tasmanian rogue Sydeston to win the Caulfield Cup among other top events and triumphed in an AJC Derby with the filly Kingston Rose.

George Hanlon was another “horse whisperer” as the record book testifies. To rattle around with him in a van that he drove alongside jockeys as they were riding workouts over hill and down dale at his Geelong property was a rare experience.

Racehorse training today is more corporate and less whisper. More’s the pity. Like Hanlon, Hoysted will be remembered.

Stayer on the rise

Zephyron was yet another example that top-priced, bred-in-the-purple horses, often an embarrassment, thrive with Team Hawkes.

Previously with two Victorian trainers, Zephyron hardly looked like justifying his $2 million purchase price. Earlier last week, La Amistad, passed in as a yearling for $725,000 on a $750,000 reserve, scored for them over 2400 metres at Warwick Farm. Being a three-quarter sister to the champion Makybe Diva, she has considerable staying potential. The Hawkes factor also added value to All Too Hard.

On the other end of the price scale, the David Pfieffer-trained mare Cradle Me, impressive taking the fifth at Rosehill, was a $3000 yearling.

Horse to follow

Brazen Beau won Saturday’s Champagne Stakes at Doomben in a manner that suggests he is a serious force for the stronger events trainer Chris Waller has targeted for him.


Rugged Cross, the $3 favourite, looked very common indeed finishing last to stablemate Tromso, prepared by Chris Waller, in the second at Rosehill on Saturday.

The story Young hoop Taylor Marshall shows rare saddle skills first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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