Monday, 15 November 2021

Nunthorpe Stakes 2017: Marsha £6,300,000 European Public Auction Record

Marsha hit the headlines, not for the first time, when knocked down to Michael Vincent ‘M.V.’ Magnier, on behalf of Coolmore Stud, for £6,300,000 at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale at Newmarket in 2017. In so doing, the four-year-old filly became the most expensive thoroughbred ever sold at European public auction. 

Bred and owned, during her racing career, by Elite Racing Club and trained by Sir Mark Prescott, Marsha won seven of her 18 starts and finished out of the first three just three times, accumulating a total of just over £650,000 in win and place prize money. Perhaps surprisingly, she won just three Group races, the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp – run, that year, at Chantilly – in 2016 and Group Three Palace House Stakes at Newmarket and Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 2017. Of course, two of those are premier European sprint races, so to say that she ‘just’ won both of them is a little unfair.

Nevertheless, her victory in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, on the final start of her three-year-old campaign, was her first in a Group race of any kind. However, with another winter behind her, she gamely confirmed the form with the Chantilly runner-up, Washington DC, in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket on her reappearance. Stepped back up to Group One level in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, for which she started favourite, Marsha kept on well in the closing stages, but could never threaten impressive winner Lady Aurelia and eventually finished third, beaten 3 lengths and a head. 

Marsha was subsequently beaten, albeit only by a short head, at odds of 1/2, by Caspian Prince in the Group Two Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, and again, by Battaash and Profitable, in the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood. Consequently, when she lined up in the Nunthorpe Stakes – which again featured Lady Aurelia, Battaash and Profitable – three weeks later, he chance was less than obvious. 

As was her customary style, Lady Aurelia, ridden by Frankie Dettori, was quickly away and took the field along in the centre of the course. Indeed, when she quickened approaching the final furlong she had most of the 11-strong field in trouble. Not so Marsha, though, who tracked the leaders on the stands’ side and was driven to chase Lady Aurelia inside the final furlong, closing her down all the way to the finishing line. The two fillies flashed past the post together, with Dettori celebrating, finger aloft, but the ensuing photo-finish revealed that Marsha, ridden by Luke Morris, had got up to win by a nose.

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