Marsh achieves personal milestone

A major milestone in on the cards for Stephen Marsh after he achieved a memorable win at Ellerslie yesterday.

The Cambridge trainer recorded his first Group One success since branching out on his own when the freakish filly Ruud Awakening trounced her rivals in the Group I Haunui Farm Ford Diamond Stakes.

Marsh celebrated two Group One wins when training in partnership with his father, Bruce, but yesterday’s honour exceeded both those victories.

“When we were in partnership we won the Zabeel Classic with Hail and the Bayer Classic with Russian Pearl and they were thrills, but you can’t beat training a Group One on your own,” said Marsh. “It’s a huge thrill and it’s special to get it with a filly like Ruud Awakening. She is so exciting.”

Ruud Awakening produced a performance similar to her runaway Karaka Million win when bouncing from the one draw and being in control throughout. And despite a courageous bid from Bounding, he was never going to be beaten in the home straight and at the finish she had two and a quarter lengths on the Matamata filly.

Bounding is the only horse to have defeated Ruud Awakening. She did so when Marsh’s stable star was fractious at the barrier and gave her a huge start in the Listed Murdoch Newell Stakes at Pukekohe. Yesterday it was a fair and square result with no excuses.

“The last 40 or 50 metres she was going away again,” said Marsh. “The thing with her is she’s going a very high cruising speed.”
The big question after the Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes was whether or not Marsh would press ahead with a late entry to start Ruud Awakening in the Group I $A3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill on April 6.

After watching the way she pulled up and came through the race, Marsh is now leaning towards a crack at the best Australian two-year-olds.

“It’s a big ask I know, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and she’s been running the times,” said Marsh. “She’s a filly who should have won six out of six so we’ve really got to look at the Slipper. We’ve still got close to a month to the race so time is on our side and if she does well we’ll go for it.”

Ruud Awakening ran the 1200 metres in a swift 1:8.78 and the final 600 in 33.73 and did it so easily.

“Last night when I put her back in her box she looked like she did before the race,” said Marsh. “She takes nothing out of herself in her races. She looks super and last night she left only a small amount of feed and this horse she bucked around her paddock.”

Marsh plans to give her a light canter tomorrow and says if she bounces out of her skin in the next week he will press ahead with the Golden Slipper dream.

The next big question is who will ride Ruud Awakening if she does start in the Golden Slipper? Craig Williams came across from Aussie to win the Karaka Million on her and Opie Bosson was aboard in yesterday’s success.

“Craig Williams’ manager has been in close contact and he rang again after yesterday’s race,” said Marsh. “Craig is keen to get back on her. Opie is a world-class rider, too. I’d be happy to have either on one her over there. We’ll just wait a bit longer to see what we do about the Slipper before making a firm engagement.”