Marsh joins 1000-win club

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  • July 06, 2023
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The champagne was flowing in Cambridge on Saturday night as local trainer Stephen Marsh celebrated bringing up his 1000th New Zealand win at Ruakaka earlier in the day.

The milestone had been a major goal for Marsh this season, and he was delighted to achieve it on Saturday, courtesy of Arrowette in the Happy Big 50th Kylee Harrison (1600m).

“I am absolutely over the moon,” Marsh said.

“We were hoping to tick it off this season, and we did.

“I was pleased it happened on a Saturday and for such good owners (Cambridge Stud principals Brendan and Jo Lindsay). It was a massive thrill for not just me, but the whole team.”

Marsh was confident of a bold showing from the filly, having placed in her two previous starts at Cambridge, but he said she will now be put on ice in anticipation for better tracks in the spring.

“The track was wet enough for her, she is probably better on a good track,” Marsh said.

“We probably won’t do too much with her this time. Warren (Kennedy, jockey) got her into a beautiful spot and she did look the winner a furlong out.

“She had built nicely to that. She had the two runs up to the mile with the side winkers on. I thought she was good, and she is a filly that can go on with it later in the spring.”

Marsh is in his 20th season of training, having joined his father Bruce in partnership in their home region of Manawatu in 2002, and he said he never dreamed of doing anything else.

“I realised quite early on that I was never going to make a jockey, but I never really thought about being a jockey anyway. I always wanted to be a trainer,” he said.

“I have always loved the game. Even when I went to school, I would get up early and go to the track a lot. It (becoming a trainer) was probably always going to happen.

“I worked for Dad and then we went into partnership. I ran the Awapuni stables and he ran the Woodville stables.”

A pivotal moment in Marsh’s career was when his father left to train in Singapore, leaving him to make his own mark on the New Zealand racing scene.

“When he went to Singapore, I took the stables over myself and then two years later I moved to Cambridge,” Marsh said.

“We came up with six horses. It was a daunting start to it all. It was a big, wide world up here coming out of Woodville.

“This (Waikato) is the hub of racing in New Zealand, and it was easily the best decision I have made in my life.”

Marsh has accrued 71 stakes victories over the years and while there have been many highlights over that time, winning the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in 2019 with Crown Prosecutor was at the top of the list.

“The race that was the biggest highlight was winning the New Zealand Derby. It is a race I think is the most prestigious in New Zealand and it was a massive thrill winning that,” he said.

Marsh also highlighted Ruud Awakenings juvenile season as a major moment, with the daughter of Bernadini having won five of her six starts in New Zealand that season, including the Gr.1 Diamond Stakes (1200m), Karaka Million 2YO (1200m), Listed Wellesley Stakes (1000m), and was runner-up in the Listed Newell Stakes (1100m).

While Marsh has had 1000 wins in his homeland, he has also tasted plenty of success across the Tasman.

“I won the AJC Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m) (Sofia Rosa, 2016), which was a massive thrill. Winning a race like that was pretty special,” he said.

“I have won a few races over there, including the Brisbane Cup (Gr.2, 2200) (Chocante, 2017) and a few with Dad.”

While rapt with attaining the 1000-win milestone, Marsh also reflected on a great season, with his current prizemoney total of $3.4 million already surpassing his previous best tally of $3 million last season.

The Cambridge trainer currently stands at 97 wins for the season, and he is intent on exceeding his previous best mark of 104, which was also achieved last term.

“The last couple of months we have been really focussed on getting to the 1000 (wins), and getting to the 100 again,” Marsh said.

“Once we got to the 100 last time, that was our goal to keep getting to the 100-plus every year.

“It is nice winning more prizemoney than ever and with the stakes increases we have got no excuses not to do that again.”

Marsh is hoping he can get closer to his season’s goal on Wednesday when he heads to Rotorua with seven runners, and he believes Lincoln Lady and Antrim Coast are his two best chances.

“The track is going to be really wet on Wednesday at Rotorua, but I do really like Lincoln Lady and Antrim Coast,” he said.

“I think they are two progressive types and they should get through the wet track well.”

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