Courtesy of Racing Post.
When just about every superpower from the bloodstock world gathers around one sales ring almost anything is possible, and Marsha duly smashed the European auction record when Coolmore's M.V. Magnier outgunned John Gosden at 6 million guineas (US$8,491,140) Dec. 5 during the Tattersalls December mares sale in Newmarket.
Each bid from Coolmore's man, often delivered after a lengthy consultation with Paul Shanahan, was met with a sharp nod of the head from Gosden, who was tucked away behind the partition.
"She walks like a rockstar," said auctioneer Simon Kerins with the five-million mark in sight, but when Magnier raised six digits from in the gangway to signal the final bid, there was no encore forthcoming as Gosden quickly turned away and exited stage left.
"She's very quick and Sir Mark (Prescott) did a great job with her," said Magnier as he signed the docket carrying the European auction record price. "Hopefully we can do half the job he's done with her."
The 4-year-old Acclamation (GB) filly won seven races for Prescott and the Elite Racing Club, including this year's Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) and last year's Qatar Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp (G1). Those exploits have now earned her a date with the most dominant stallion of the current era.
"She's going to Galileo," confirmed Magnier. "She's one of the best sprinters around and she has a lovely presence about her."
Marsha's trainer, who has handled the filly's racing career with typical aplomb, was among those on hand to witness the recording-breaking transaction.
"I was surprised," said Prescott when asked if he had expected Marsha to scale such heights in the ring. "But it's great for Elite Racing, we got 47 of them here on a bus, and not many horses have that when they go to the ring.
"She's gone to a great home and her stock will be wonderfully trained. It's just been a very good story. She looked a million dollars and she's made it easy. She's just the most consistent sprinter, I won't say she's the best but she's the most consistent. She's never turned a hair here despite everybody poking about."
Despite the racing powerhouses that went toe to toe for the filly, who shares her family with the great Soviet Song, Marsha was offered on behalf of the Elite Racing Club, whose members gained access to the club for as little as £199 ($267.49) a year.
"I feel exhausted but elated," said Elite Racing Club manager Dan Downie. "We knew we were coming here with a lovely filly but you never dare to dream of that. We knew she was worth a fair bit of money and we were pretty confident. You don't often come to a sale and feel confident unless you have something perfect to offer.
"If she hadn't reached a level we thought was fair we would definitely have kept her but I think we always thought that was unlikely given that you can't really fault her as a specimen—she's pretty much perfect."
Remarkably, Marsha was not the only dual group 1-winning sprinter to be offered by a syndicate during Tuesday's session, as Quiet Reflection also went the way of Magnier, whose name appeared on the docket alongside that of Blandford Bloodstock, for 2.1 million guineas ($2,971,899).
It looked for a moment as if the daughter of Showcasing had been landed by Oliver St. Lawrence, before Blandford Bloodstock's Tom Goff appeared on the back stairs and swiftly delivered the winning bid.
"She's a very special filly, a brilliant sprinter," said Goff. "She was very well trained and well selected by Karl Burke, and a filly that a lot of people have been chasing privately."
When quizzed if Quiet Reflection would be retired, Goff said: "It hasn't been discussed yet but I suspect that the time has come for her to be a mother."
This was the third time that Quiet Reflection had been through the sales ring, having first been picked up as a yearling by Geoffrey Howson for £32,000 ($53,047) before she realised £44,000 ($66,168) from Burke at the Doncaster breeze-up sale.
She won eight races for Burke and the Ontoawinner syndicate, a race record headed by her stunning victories in the 32red Sprint Cup (G1) and the Commonwealth Cup (G1).
"She's been a fantastic filly and has gone to a top-class farm," said Burke, whose apprentice jockey Jordan Vaughan led Quiet Reflection around the ring.
"Hopefully they'll send me one of her offspring to train! You can not replace her though. I trained her second dam, Clare Hills, and that's what it was that caught my eye in the first place."
Not content with acquiring two of the most talented fillies around, Magnier made another seven-figure purchase during the session, having earlier parted with 1.5 million ($2,122,785) in partnership with elusive owner Peter Brant for the Albany Stakes (G3) winner Different League.
"Different League will go to Ballydoyle and will stay in training," said Magnier.
Different League has taken the Marnane family on the journey of a lifetime this season, having been bought by Con Marnane for just €8,000 ($8,708) as a foal. She won her first three starts for French trainer Matthieu Palussiere, a run that included her memorable Royal Ascot victory.
"She did over 500 shows here, just unbelievable," said a visibly stunned Marnane, whose daughter Amy consigned the Dabirsim filly. "She never turned a hair. Her last show was as good as her first."
Asked what first appealed about Different League back at Arqana in December 2015, Marnane said: "She had this great walk and is such a strong, good topped filly. She has great hindquarters.
"We tried to sell her as a yearling but couldn't—we had no one on her. Perhaps they thought she was too tall, would take too much time—they were all wrong!"
Having missed out on the session-topper, Godolphin enjoyed better fortune in their pursuit of Zhukova, who they snared for 3.7 million guineas ($5,236,203).
Anthony Stroud, bidding from the back stairs, outlasted Justin Casse, James Wigan, and Ballylinch Stud's John O'Connor for the Fastnet Rock (AUS) mare, who landed the Man O'War Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park earlier this year for Dermot Weld.
"She's a very nice filly, a grade 1 winner who is out of a group 1 winner (group 1 Boylesports Irish One Thousand Guineas victress Nightime)," said Stroud. "Logically, the thing to do is go to Dubawi."
Zhukova was sold by The Castlebridge Consignment on behalf of John Murrell and his wife Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez. The pair also had a good result with group 3-winning sprinter Only Mine, who made 925,000 guineas ($1,309,051) to the Niarchos family.
The session, which will live long in the memory, generated 10 seven-figure lots and a turnover of 45,665,000 guineas ($64,289,493)—up a phenomenal 79% year-on-year. The average jumped by 90% to 260,943 guineas ($367,368) and the median was up by 25,000 guineas ($35,196) to 80,500 guineas ($113,331). The clearance rate stood at 76%, with 175 of 229 offered lots changing hands.
For more European racing, sales, and bloodstock news, visit RacingPost.com.