Marsh winning roll continues

Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh is switching his attention between a group of smart gallopers as his stable continues a successful innings.

Marsh picked up a double at yesterday’s Te Rapa meeting to take his record for the season to 22 wins and earnings of more than $800,000. His wins came with Barbaric and Heart Of Darkness and he gained special delight from both winners.

He races Heart Of Darkness, who was ridden to a length win in the Greene Bros Sales and Service 1600 by Matt Cameron, in partnership with his father, Bruce (a leading Singapore-based trainer), and Ali Cunningham, a long-time supporter of the Marsh stables.

It was Heart Of Darkness’ third win from 11 starts and capped some encouraging form, suggesting she could go on to further success.

But an even bigger thrill for Marsh came from Barbaric’s win in the Te Rapa Mowers and Chainsaws 1200.

The problem-plagued four-year-old was far too good for his rivals, scoring by three and three-quarter lengths, again in the hands of Cameron. Coincidentally, the runner-up behind both of Marsh’s winners yesterday came from another Cambridge stable, that of Chris Wood. Bob Valdez was second to Heart Of Darkness and Rebound chased Barbaric home.

Marsh has always had a high opinion of Barbaric, a son of Pins and the capable racemare Burnzee’s Magic.

“He’s a day to day proposition because of his problems,” said Marsh. “He’s got terrible feet and average joints. But if I can hold him together he could be a Group One horse.”

Barbaric has had five starts for three wins and on the other occasions he has pulled up lame.

He didn’t have his first trial until last April and after winning his second trial, at Te Awamutu, he was favourite on debut when an impressive winner at Hastings last June. But after that seven and a quarter-length win, he went badly shinsore and had to go out for another good break, then he suffered a foot abscess in his good foot.

Barbaric reappeared four months later and was again an easy winner, at Te Rapa, then he suffered his first defeat on the same track the following month when second to Miss Pelear, who went on to run a close second in the Group II NRM Auckland Thoroughbred Bredeers’ Stakes at Pukekohe and later win the Group II Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie.

“He pulled up sore after the Te Rapa run,” said Marsh. “Jason (Waddell) said he was going up to win the race then at the 200 he wasn’t right.”

Barbaric’s only unplaced run came in his next start, at Ellerslie, when dropping out to finish last. “That day he pulled up sore in front and pulled muscles behind, and he also pulled a plate that day,” said Marsh.

Barbaric indicated he was back on the right track when winning at the Paeroa trials and his performance yesterday has Marsh considering a start in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) at Trentham on March 16. “He could run there or we could wait a couple of weeks for Awapuni,” said Marsh. “I’ll just see how he comes through this race over the next few days.”

If Barbaric does head to Trentham he could be joined on the day by stablemates Lucky Country and Aurora Lights, who are being aimed at the Group One feature, the Wellfield NZ Oaks.

Lucky Country, a last-start winner of the NZB Insurance Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth, will round off her Oaks buildup with a start in the Group III $70,000 Bruce Perry Bloodstock Lowland Stakes at Hastings on Saturday, while Aurora Lights will start next Wednesday at Ellerslie in the McKee Family Sunline Vase.

Lucky Country has recorded three wins and four placings from nine starts and Marsh says she has the temperament which could help her get the 2400 metres of the NZ Oaks. “She’s had two seconds in black type races and deserves to win a good one,” he said.

She will be ridden this weekend by Jonathan Parkes, while Opie Bosson will ride Aurora Lights next week. Bosson will then have the opportunity to make up his mind whether he will ride either of them in the Oaks.

Aurora Lights won over 1600 metres last start with Bosson in the saddle and Marsh believes she will come into her own over ground. “The further she goes, the better she should get,” he said.

Meanwhile, Marsh is thrilled with the stable star Ruud Awakening, who will start on Saturday week in the Group I Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie.

“I think she’s improved since the Karaka Million,” he said. “She looks stronger and her action is super. I couldn’t be happier with her.”