Jockey Lloyd Marshall passes away
Making his debut as an apprentice rider in 1972 at Chennai (then known as Madras), Lloyd distinguished himself by riding 900 winners in a career spanning almost four decades.
Despite being diagnosed with a dreaded disease like cancer in 1995, Lloyd continued to excel in saddle, winning races at all Indian racetracks. He rode many a winner for big horse owners like Dr MAM Ramaswamy, Deepak Khaitan & Vijay Mallya.
However, the highlight of his career was clearly the Indian Derby victory astride Chaitanya Chakram, a gutsy colt who was pitched by trainer Dhariwal in the blue riband of the Indian turf in 1985. Chaitanya Chakram had come to Mahalaxmi with an imposing reputation, having demolished opposition of all hues along the way quite ruthlessly. But the puritans saw a problem with the horse.
Chaitanya Chakram had won all his races in a start-to-finish manner, and since no horse, until then, had won the Indian Derby wire-to-wire in its 38-year old history, experts were not ready to believe it was possible.
When a local journalist pointed this out and asked Lloyd Marshall before the race if he was considering a change in strategy in view of the grueling mile-and-a-half Derby trip, he had shot back, “My horse will do what he likes, and not what you think he should do.”
There was high drama in the days leading to the big contest as Pesi Shroff, the ace rider who was supposed to ride local champion Carpricorn, parted company with Bezan Chenoy who trained the Kamal Bhatia-owned favourite. Legendary jockey Vasant Shinde was then engaged at the last minute to ride Capricorn in front of a full house which set a new record at the time with 31,000 race lovers filing in to watch the high voltage contest.
True to his word, Lloyd asked Chaitanya Chakram to hit the front immediately after the jump, while Vasant Shinde settled Capricorn close behind. Midway into the final homestretch Shinde had Capricorn on a tight rein and the local hope effortlessly cruised to be alongside Chaitanya Chakram and momentarily it looked Capricorn would just sail away for a comfortable victory.
But Lloyd goaded on his equine partner with such magical riding display that Capricorn could not gain even an inch in the final furlong despite Shinde trying virtually every trick in his repertoire. Chakram spared his elegant neck to Capricorn at the wire, and wrote history by being the first horse to win the Derby in a start to finish manner. Shinde was to later say he could not believe how Chakram dug his heels in and fought so well, and was the first to compliment and heap praise on Lloyd.
In an emotional tribute yesterday, Dhariwal described his former jockey as ‘a dedicated soul’ and ‘a horseman to the core’. He also praised Lloyd for his punctuality and sincerity. “His feedback would always be exceptional,” the trainer said, “it would immensely help in preparing the horses.”