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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Marsha has 'massive chance' of anniversary success for owners

Marsha, with trainer Sir Mark Prescott and work rider Sarah Oliveira, is reported in good form ahead of the King's Stand Stakes next week
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Luke Morris believes Marsha has a "massive chance" of landing a significant victory – for both him and the owners – at Royal Ascot a week on Tuesday.

At 4-1 his mount looks clearly the chief British hope for the King's Stand Stakes, having become the first filly since Lochsong to defy a penalty in the Palace House Stakes on her reappearance last month.

She is disputing favouritism with Acapulco and Lady Aurelia, the last two winners of the Queen Mary Stakes, and success would give the Elite Racing Club, who celebrate their 25th anniversary this year, a first British Group 1 triumph since 2005.

Marsha (white, black cap) lands the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket

"She's got a massive chance," said Morris, who has won three races on Marsha, including last year's Prix de l'Abbaye at Chantilly.

"I've had a couple of Group 1 winners in France but it would be great to get one at Royal Ascot.

"It's very exciting. The track should suit her well and it looks like it's going to be a very dry week – if it is fast ground that will be right up her street.

"The form of her Palace House win has stood up very well. It was a very good performance and it showed she had improved from last year. She looks the best of the home defence."

Morris does not ride Marsha in her home work but is confident she remains in good shape after her Newmarket win.

"She seems in good form at home," he continued. "Lady Aurelia was very good when she won at Royal Ascot last year and if she's in that sort of form she's going to be tough to beat. But she goes off on the front end and there are horses in there who will take her on in front.

"We'll be patient and hopefully will be there to pick up the pieces. I'm hoping the race will be run to suit us."

Elite's racing manager Dan Downie said: "To give weight to those horses at Newmarket was impressive first time out. It was pleasing because although the Abbaye was a great performance she had her knockers then. People thought the others didn't run their race, but she's a very good filly.

"I wouldn't make predictions but as long as we get her there as well as we can, I think she's got a real chance of running a fantastic race. It will probably be one of the toughest sprints of the year but she's more than entitled to be there and to be one of the favourites."

Two chances of another Ascot winner

Top-class miler Soviet Song gave Elite their last British Group 1 winner in the Falmouth Stakes in 2005, and Downie added: "This is our 25th anniversary year and it's great we have two live chances at Ascot.

"Top Tug is in the Northumberland Plate but the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes is the priority and he is second favourite."

Acapulco, who is in foal to Galileo, won the 2015 Queen Mary for Wesley Ward – trainer of Lady Aurelia – and landed her first start for Aidan O'Brien at the Curragh last month.

O'Brien said: "We're happy with Acapulco so far. She's in good form and the King's Stand remains the plan. We're hoping for good, fast ground."

Pleasingly for her connections, the ground at Ascot was described on Sunday as a mixture of good and good to firm by clerk of the course Chris Stickels.

He said: "It looks like being a dry and warm week. We'll see how things pan out but we could well water to maintain it."

Six of the best in a quarter of a century of the Elite Racing Club


Completed a four-timer in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot in 2010 and made his mark in Group races subsequently, landing the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket and September Stakes at Kempton.


The 1994 Triumph Hurdle winner also landed the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury the following year and returned to Cheltenham to finish second in the 1995 Stayers' Hurdle.

New Seeker

Won the Britannia Handicap in 2003 and Royal Hunt Cup (at York) in 2005 before scoring three times in Listed company.


Unbeaten in four juvenile hurdles in 2004-05, culminating in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.


Progressed from handicaps to win the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville and finish a close second in the Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp in 2014.

Soviet Song

Top-class miler whose nine wins included five in Group 1 company, from the Fillies' Mile at two to the Falmouth Stakes at five.

King's Stand Stakes card and betting

The track should suit her well and it looks like it's going to be a very dry week - if it is fast ground that will be right up her street

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