Attention switches to Ascot following Marsha’s notable Guineas Festival win
Aidan O’Brien and Churchill may have dominated the headlines with Saturday’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas victory, but it was Sir Mark Prescott’s Marsha that made Newmarket’s major impression on the Rowley Mile.
Carrying a 7lb penalty as a result of her Group 1 success in last year’s Prix de l’Abbaye, the four-year-old became the first horse to win the Longholes Palace House Stakes since Lochsong 23 years ago.
It was a performance that firmly underlined the filly’s sprinting credentials, prompting bookmakers to slash her odds for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Asked what set Marsha — ridden by Luke Morris — apart from the rest of the field on Saturday, Prescott simply replied: “She goes very quick.”
He then elaborated: “She is very quick, very strong and very straightforward, and that makes her very easy to train.
“She has not worked with another horse all spring and Luke has not sat on her since she won the Abbaye, but he gets on so well with her.”
Meanwhile, three-year-old Churchill confirmed he is still the best horse of his age by giving O’Brien a record-breaking eighth 2,000 Guineas victory, while the much-fancied Newmarket horse Eminent finishing sixth for Marytn Meade.
Question marks still remain as to whether the Galileo colt possesses the stamina to step up four furlongs for the Derby, though his trainer was in bullish mood when pressed on the matter.
“He is such a relaxed horse that I think he could get any trip you wanted and I have not seen many horses by Galileo not stay beyond a mile,” said O’Brien.
“He is so relaxed in his races that he could probably go as far as you want, and he is by a sire whose progeny generally stay very well.”
In addition to Marsha, further HQ success came courtesy of Playful Sound in the day’s opening Spring Lodge Handicap race.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly held off a late challenge from Next Stage under William Buick’s guidance.
“That was very pleasing, she really wanted that and she has got a great attitude,” said Stoute.
Stoute’s other representative — second favourite Ballet Concerto — could only muster a fifth-place finish, with jockey Ryan Moore later confirming the ground was too fast.
That proved to be one of the only blots on Moore’s copybook as he rode three of the seven winners.
Moore was onboard Churchill, as well as Seventh Heaven in the Dunaden Jockey Club Stakes and Permian in the Havana Gold Stakes.
The day-ending Qipco Racing Welfare Handicap Stakes went the way of Newmarket trainer Michael Bell’s Ronald R, who won by a nose from Son Of The Stars.