Foaled in Ireland on March 16, 2013, Marsha was a daughter of high-class multiple winning sprinter Acclamation but, unlike some of his more precocious progeny, didn’t see a racecourse until the September of her two-year-old season. Bred and owned by the Elite Racing Club, in whose familiar colours – black cap, white jacket with three large black spots – she raced and trained by Sir Mark Prescott at Heath House Stables in Newmarket, Suffolk, Marsha made her racecourse debut in a maiden stakes race, over 6 furlongs, at Kempton.
Ridden by stable jockey Luke Morris, who would partner her to all her major successes, Marsha took a keen hold and kept on to finish second, beaten a length, behind Zhui Feng, who won the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions Median Auction Trophy at Newmarket on his next start. Just over two weeks later, though, Marsha readily won her maiden, over 6 furlongs, at Catterick and comfortably followed up in a small European Breeders’ Fund confined race, over 5 furlongs, at Dundalk, under Declan McDonogh, three weeks later. Two weeks later, she took on older horses in the Mercury Stakes, over the same course and distance but, having been short of room around the first bend, could only keep on to finish third, beaten 2¾ lengths, behind Take Cover.
After a 204-day break, Marsha was beaten on her first two starts as a three-year-old, both over 6 furlongs, in a 0-105 handicap at Newmarket and the Group Three Ballyogan Stakes at the Curragh. However, thereafter, she was campaigned exclusively over the minimum trip and began to show the consistent, high-level form that would eventually see her fetch 6 million guineas (£6.3 million) – a European public auction record – at Tattersalls December Mare Sale at the end of her racing career.
Marsha opened her account for the season with a facile victory in the Land O’Burns Fillies’ Stakes at Ayr, quickening clear on the bit in the closing stages to win readily by 2½ lengths. She followed up in the City Walls Stakes at York, beating Scurry Stakes winner Easton Angel by a neck, and consequently started 5/1 joint-favourite for the King George Stakes at Goodwood three weeks later. In the latter contest, she took keen hold in the early stages and, although staying on strongly in the final hundred yards, couldn’t quite reach the leaders and came off worst in a five-way photograph, beaten a neck, a head, a short head and a head.
Nevertheless, after a six-week break, she was made an outright favourite, at 2/1, for the Prix du Petit Couvert at Chantilly. She finished a creditable second, but could never lay a glove on Just Glamorous, who made all the running to win, unchallenged, by 3 lengths. The following month, though, Marsha returned to Chantilly for her first attempt at Group One level, the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, run at northern French track during the redevelopment of Longchamp Racecourse.
Sent off a just seventh choice of the 17 runners, at 16/1, behind the dual Nunthorpe Stakes winner, Mecca’s Angel, who headed the market at 6/4, Marsha tackled the favourite in the last 75 yards and was driven out by Luke Morris to win by three-quarters of a length. Washington DC finished second, with Mecca’s Angel a further short-head away in third place.
On her reappearance the following May, Marsha beat Washington DC again, this time by a neck, in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket. She subsequently ran respectably in defeat in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, won by Lady Aurelia, the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, won by Caspian Prince, and the King George Stakes at Goodwood, won by Battaash, before crossing swords with Lady Aurelia again in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
Having her first race since Royal Ascot, and hitherto unbeaten over the minimum trip, Lady Aurelia unsurprisingly started odds-on, at 10/11, with Marsha joint-third favourite of the 13 runners at 8/1. Lady Aurelia broke quickly and, along with Take Cover, to the field along in the centre of the course, while Marsha tracked the leaders on the stands’ side. As Take Cover weakened approaching the furlong marker, Marsha set off in pursuit of the leader and, despite edging left in the closing stages, led on the line to win by a nose.