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Marsha hoping to sparkle

14 July 2017 National Sport

Marsha (nearest) tackles the Sapphire Stakes

Top-class filly Marsha bids to get back on the winning trail in the Friarstown Stud Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday.

Sir Mark Prescott’s four-year-old rounded off last season by claiming Group One glory in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly and kicked off the current campaign in the same vein with victory in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.

She ran another fine race when third behind brilliant American filly Lady Aurelia in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot last month and has her sights lowered for this Group Two contest.

“She ran very well at Ascot. There was nothing between her and Clive Cox’s horse (Profitable), but that beastly American horse was three lengths clear and going away,” Prescott told At The Races.

“I’m probably biased, but I felt it was probably the best performance of Royal Ascot – I felt she (Lady Aurelia) was the best horse there. Just when you were hoping she would falter, off she went again.

“The conditions of this race suit her pretty well and I think she ought to run here before the Nunthorpe at York.”

Marsha faces just five rivals over the straight five furlongs and is joined on the trip across the Irish Sea by three-time Epsom Dash winner Caspian Prince.

Tony Coyle’s charge was last seen finishing fourth in the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh.

Coyle said: “He’s drawn in stall six, which looks a good draw, and he goes there in good order.

“I was delighted with his run at Musselburgh and he just seems very well and happy in himself.

“Sir Mark’s filly is obviously good, but hopefully our horse will be there to pick up the pieces if she doesn’t run up to scratch.

“He’s rated 110 now and there was nowhere else to go with him.”

The home team is made up of the Ger Lyons-trained Ardhoomey, Barry Murphy’s Spirit Quartz, Aidan O’Brien’s Alphabet and Hit The Bid from Darren Bunyan’s stable.

Hit The Bid is a course and distance winner, claimed a Listed prize at Cork on his penultimate start and was beaten just a neck in the Rockingham Handicap here a fortnight ago.

Bunyan said: “He came out of the Rockingham very well and was very unlucky on the day, but that’s sprinting for you.

“This race wasn’t originally part of the plan, but he seems to be in the form of his life at the moment, so we decided to supplement him on Tuesday.

“I think he’ll be hard to beat if things go his way, to tell you the truth.

“As we all know, there can only be a fraction of a second between these top-end sprinters and luck in running can make the difference between finishing first or fourth.

“Our horse is only a three-year-old and a baby in sprinting terms. He’s a very exciting horse.”

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