12/06/2017 1:50PM

Marsha sells for $8.49 million, setting European auction record

Emily Shields
Marsha finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last month.

Marsha, a Group 1 winner in England and France, sold to M.V. Magnier of the Coolmore partnership for 6 million guineas ($8.49 million) on Tuesday at the Tattersalls December mares sale in Newmarket, England, making her the most expensive Thoroughbred ever sold at European auction.

A 4-year-old Acclamation filly, Marsha was one of Europe’s top sprinters, winning 7 of 18 starts for earnings of $890,913.

Trained by Mark Prescott for Elite Racing Club, Marsha developed a rivalry this year with the prominent U.S.-bred turf sprinter Lady Aurelia, finishing third to her in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal Ascot meet, then besting Lady Aurelia by a nose in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Their final meeting came in Marsha’s last start, the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar, where Marsha finished sixth and Lady Aurelia ran 10th.

Marsha’s 2017 campaign also included a win in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.

In France, Marsha won the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2016, then finished second in the same race this year. She also is Group 2-placed in Ireland.

“She really is something special,” Magnier said. “Sir Mark has done a great job with her, she was very fast, and the lads were very keen to have her. She is the best sprinter of the year, and she will go to Galileo.”

Magnier’s purchase continued an active season of buying at the top of the market for the Coolmore operation during the mixed sales. Coolmore secured the champion turf mare Tepin for $8 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale, then topped the Keeneland November breeding stock sale with the $6 million purchase of champion Stellar Wind, who remains in training for a possible start in the Pegasus World Cup.

The previous European auction record belonged to Al Naamah, a Galileo filly who sold to Al Shaqab Racing for 5 million guineas ($8.44 million at the time of the sale) during the 2013 Tattersalls October yearling sale. Al Naamah went on to become a multiple Group 3-placed runner in France.

Marsha raced as an Irish homebred for Elite Racing Club and is out of the stakes-winning Marju mare Marlinka, whose three foals to race are all winners, including English stakes-placed Judicial. European champion Soviet Song is in the extended family.

“We did have a price at which we would have taken her home, but we did think it was going to be unlikely,” said Dan Downie, manager of Elite Racing Club. “She has been wonderful and always takes everything in her stride.”