Marsha sets standard but Coyle keen on chances of Caspian


Friarstown Stud Sapphire Stakes (Group 2) | 3yo+ | 5f | RTE2/ATR

Marsha, who finished third behind the flying Lady Aurelia in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, sets the standard in this six-runner event which was won by Mecca's Angel a year ago.

Winner of the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye last season, the Sir Mark Prescott-trained four-year-old is partnered by her regular rider Luke Morris, who said: "It looks a good race for her, stepping down in grade and with no opposition like Lady Aurelia.

"She ran well at Ascot but couldn't match the American filly. She seems to have come out of Ascot well – Sir Mark is happy with her – and good fast ground will suit her."

Marsha is joined in the line-up by fellow British raider Caspian Prince.

A 16-time winner, the eight-year-old won the Dash at Epsom for the third time last month. Speaking on Friday, trainer Tony Coyle said: "He's up against it with Marsha in the race, but it's cut up and if she doesn't fire for any reason he could pick up the pieces.

"He's a marvellous horse, and everyone knows how he races – he's off and away and they have to catch him. He's fit and well and ran a cracking race at Musselburgh last time."

Ardhoomey, eight places and approximately five lengths behind Marsha at Royal Ascot, represents Ger Lyons and was a course and distance winner at this level last season.

Hit The Bid and Alphabet finished first and joint-third in a Listed event over today's trip at Cork last month. The Darren Bunyan-trained Hit The Bid went on to lose out narrowly in a handicap over the course and trip on his most recent start when Spirit Quartz, a rival again today, finished fourth.

Aidan O'Brien said of Alphabet: "She's in good form. She's got plenty of speed so the trip should suit her well."