In the early part of every Point-to-Point campaign there always seems to be at least one young rider whose performances mark him or her out as being of above average ability in the jockeyship stakes.
Coming into that category this year is 17-year-old Izzie Marshall, whose Ladies' Open victory at Cottenham on Saturday on Vesperal Dream was her third success from four outings in 2016/17, and her fifth overall, after having scored twice last season. She had her first ride on Lord Multifix in December 2015, and opened her account on Conkies Lad at Charing a year ago, following up on the same horse at Penshurst a few weeks later.
Izzie was the first to admit that Vesperal Dream's triumph was helped by her 5lb novice rider allowance, but her sense of timing and her coolness in the finish impressed all present, not least her boyfriend Joe Hill, who himself showed a nifty turn of foot as he ran alongside the course shouting her home.
The Marshall family has long been involved with the sport, and Izzie was always determined to follow her father Fraser and her brother Charlie into the winner's enclosure. Her mother Charlotte had just one ride, but her preference is for the training side of the operation.
Izzie won ten races on her hunting pony, and won the South East title in her final year of Pony racing. "I had Charlie's hand-me-downs," she laughed. She also competed in the Shetland Grand National series and rode at Olympia.
She is currently studying for 'A' levels in Geography, Business and Psychology, with every spare moment spent riding the horses at home, plus going to Nick Pearce's yard at the weekends. She has also ridden out for the Marshalls' neighbour, Di Grissell.
Her aim this season is to win the National Novice title – she is one ahead of Laura Thomas at the top of the table – but she will be missing the action in 2017/18, when she will be having a ski season during her gap year before going to University. She has already had some offers of a place to read Business Management, with her preference to remain in the M4 corridor and the opportunities that area affords for riding out, while she has every intention of dusting off her racing saddle when she returns from the slopes!
And once her business qualifications are under her belt her ideal job would be to utilise her skills in a racing-orientated position.
Izzie will be hoping to keep up her championship challenge at Charing on Sunday, when she is jocked up on the Pearce-trained Murrayana in the Ladies' Open.