McNab and Marsh so close to glory

Nahema (centre) shading Serena Miss (outer) just after the winning post at Matamata. (Photo: Trish Dunell/NZTM).

Nahema (centre) shading Serena Miss (outer) just after the winning post at Matamata. (Photo: Trish Dunell/NZTM).


The Cambridge pair of jockey Michael McNab and trainer Stephen Marsh came so close to achieving a major highlight at Matamata yesterday.

McNab rode the Marsh-trained Nahema into a nose second behind Serena Miss in the Gr. 2 J. Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes and wasn’t about to take the defeat without a fight.

Both McNab and Marsh were adamant Nahema had been cost the win by the inward movement of the winner inside the final 100 metres as she pushed through a gap between Serena Miss and Strata Lady and the pair argued their case in the inquiry room.

A lengthy inquiry took place and unfortunately for Nahema’s connections the protest was dismissed, robbing McNab of what would have been his first black-type win.

Nahema’s defeat also prevented Marsh completing the feature race two-year-old double, having two races earlier won the Listed Reid & Harrison Slipper with the smart colt Rocanto.

Marsh has two very smart youngsters in Rocanto and Nahema and in the case of the latter it was a huge effort to back up nine days after her debut win at Te Aroha and go so close to winning the country’s richest two-year-old fillies’ event.

A couple of seasons ago Marsh was sweeping all before him on the local front with his top two-year-old Ruud Awakening, whose wins included the Gr. 1 Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie. Now he has a realistic chance to again win the 1200-metre feature.

After watching Rocanto beat the Karaka Million runner-up Selfie by a short neck, Marsh said he had to yet decide whether to press on for the Diamond Stakes with the son of Per Incanto or wait for the Gr. 1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes later next month.

“The Diamond is the logical next race for him but I’ll just see how he does in the next few days,” said Marsh. “Not taking anything away from the second horse, Selfie, we had a soft enough run today to win.”

Rocanto is raced by Hong Kong businessman Ken Lau and has now recorded three wins (all on left-handed tracks) from four starts.