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Champions Series Stars to Stud: Marsha

17 Jan 2018

This week we turn the spotlight onto the syndicate-owned filly who won the Nunthorpe before being sold for a record sum

Marsha, left, wins the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes from Lady Aurelia at York.Picture:

Career details:

Marsha developed into one of the fastest horses in training and was never short of supporters.
She was willed on time and again by the 10,000 members of the Elite Racing Club, the syndicate which bred and owned her.

The daughter of Acclamation, trained by Sir Mark Prescott and ridden in the main by Luke Morris, gave them adventures all over the world – signing off with a close sixth in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar when typically giving her all and being beaten only a length.

Weeks later, having been retired from racing, she became the highest-priced horse sold at a European auction when making six million guineas at Tattersalls December Mare Sale.

Marsha raced in four countries, won seven of her 15 races and was placed in another eight.

She achieved a breakthrough Group 1 success in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly in the autumn of 2016 – her starting price of 16-1 reflecting that, beforehand, her biggest wins had been in Listed races.

It was no fluke, though, as she showed when defying a penalty on her return in the Group Three Palace House Stakes at Newmarket – winning by a neck from Washington DC.

Marsha was third to Lady Aurelia in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on her next start and filled the same position behind Battaash in the King George Stakes at Goodwood.

It seemed she might be destined to spend the year coming up just a little short but then came an epic nose defeat of Lady Aurelia in a thrilling Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

Marsha beat all bar Battaash when attempting to win a second Prix de l’Abbaye next time before the curtain came down in America.

Rewinding back to the start, Marsha lost her maiden tag on her second start over six furlongs at Catterick. She was all speed, though, and all but two of her subsequent races were over the minimum trip.

Her competitive spirit meant that she did all her training at home on her own.

Career highlight:

Marsha’s victory in the Group 1 2017 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes – one of seven races in the Sprint category of the QIPCO British Champions Series – was one of the most dramatic of the whole year.

Lady Aurelia, the flying filly from America, had been a brilliant winner of the King’s Stand Stakes on her previous start – when Marsha was back in third – and started the 10-11 favourite under Frankie Dettori to follow up against ten rivals.

For much of the way it seemed she would prevail, especially when a couple of lengths clear a furlong out with main market rival Battaash on the retreat.

However, Luke Morris had kept Marsha, sent off at 8-1, away from the frenetic early gallop and came with a late thrust. The pair flashed past the post almost as one, having pulled almost four lengths clear, but Dettori was adamant he had won – putting his finger to his lips and saluting the crowd.

The photo-finish told a different story, though, with Marsha getting the verdict by a nose after trading at 129-1 in-running.

What they said:

Sir Mark Prescott said after her winning return in 2017: “She’s very willing, very sound and very straightforward, except she will tank. “The girl who looks after her, Sarah [Oliveira], rides her in all her work. Luke [Morris] gets on with her very well, but is not allowed to see her at home.”

After she had finished third in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, he added: “Being a filly, every time she gets black type it enhances her value, whereas if she was a colt and I had got her beaten today it would have knocked a million quid off the value! It is a lot less worry training these fillies.”

Luke Morris said after the Nunthorpe: “When I saw Frankie put his arm up, I was gutted as I thought he had won, then someone said congratulations to me and it turned into jubilation.

“Going down today, she felt more on her mettle and more alive. Sir Mark is a genius. It’s fantastic for the owners. It’s great for the man in the street to be involved with a horse like this.”

Where she will stand:

Marsha was bought at Tattersalls in December for six million guineas by MV Magnier, son of Coolmore Stud’s John Magnier, for a new partnership.

Magnier had the final nod for the then four-year-old after a head-to-battle with John Gosden, who was bidding for Godolphin.

“She really is something special,” said Magnier. “Sir Mark has done a great job with her, she was very fast and the lads were very keen to have her. She is the best sprinter of the year and she will go to Galileo.”

What should we expect from her offspring?:

Marsha was all about speed but that does not mean her future sons and daughters will be out-and-out sprinters.

Galileo, the superstar sire who will initially cover her, is renowned for stamping all his stock with stamina.

Indeed the chemistry of him plus a sprinting female has yielded some tremendous results, with Winter and Churchill being the most recent examples.

Winter’s dam broke the track record in the Wokingham but Winter herself was fully effective at up to a mile and a quarter. Churchill also stayed ten furlongs, even though the distaff side of his pedigree is also all about pace.

If nothing else, Marsha’s offspring should be good lookers. She is a lovely specimen who always filled the eye on the racecourse.