Behind the public face of racing on the track is the bloodstock industry, the factory floor if you like, where raw material is fashioned and the dreams begin. And although it is the racecourse that generally supplies the sport’s drama and emotion, occasionally events in the sale ring become more than merely a series of down-to-earth trading transactions.
And one extraordinary session in the Tattersalls arena in Newmarket recently provided hours of sheer theatre. From the head’s point of view, the equine auction house will have been delighted with the day’s turnover of more than 45million guineas, and the two-week December Sales total of more than 105million guineas.
However, it was the heart that was affected most by proceedings as the top-class sprinter Marsha was sold for a European record-price of 6million guineas. Marsha being one of the main attractions was never in doubt. She won the Prix de l’Abbaye, the Nunthorpe Stakes and is an outstanding physical specimen — the sale ring was packed shoulder-to-shoulder for the occasion.
The four-year-old looked magnificent and was described as a “rock star” by auctioneer Simon Kerins. A final duel between two of the bloodstock world’s superpowers — Godolphin and Coolmore — took her price tag into the stratosphere. As the hammer fell in favour of John Magnier and his Co. Tipperary team, the silent gallery broke into spontaneous applause. The daughter of Acclamation will have the world’s best stallion, Galileo, as her first mate.
Trained by Sir Mark Prescott, Marsha was home-bred by the Elite Racing Club, the most consistently successful ownership group of its kind.
She is not the first from her family to bring glory for the white-and-black colours — Soviet Song won five Group Ones over a mile and Penzance took the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, both of them out of Marsha’s third dam Kalinka, a 3,700 Irish guineas yearling purchase back in 1995.
Aidan O’Brien will be training Marsha’s progeny in due course. More immediately, he acquired a new recruit to Ballydoyle in Different League, whom Irish dealer Con Marnane bought cheaply as a foal but failed to sell as a yearling. Forced to run her himself, he ended up with a Royal Ascot success in the Albany Stakes and last week’s life-changing dividend.
Ref Horse & Hound; 14 December 2017