Marcus Maskell Marsh was a younger son of Richard ‘Dick’ Marsh, who trained many winners for the reigning King George V and his father King Edward VII. When his mother Victoria was Queen, Edward, as Prince of Wales, won the Derby with Persimmon in 1896 and Diamond Jubilee in 1900. After he became monarch, his horse Minoru once again triumphed in the 1909 Derby. All three classic winners were trained by Richard Marsh, who also bagged the 1898 Derby with James Larnach’s horse Jeddah. The celebrated trainer also took charge of the stables of King George V, but could not replicate his Derby success.
Born in 1904, Marcus Marsh became assistant to his trainer-uncle Frederick Darling. He moved on to assist Captain Richard Gooch and then trained Sir Alfred Butt’s horses. In 1931 he was on his own with just three horses, but gained the confidence of the Maharaja of Rajpipla with his keen horse sense. Then he spotted Windsor Lad in 1932, and the rest is history. The irony was not lost on anyone when in the 1934 Derby Windsor Lad beat Easton, who was trained by Marsh’s uncle and mentor Fred Darling. While Windsor Lad was stabled at Lambourn, Marsh took care to place the colt in the same box as Felstead, the winner of the 1928 Derby.
Darling himself was a seven-time Derby winning trainer between 1922 and 1941, which included his own horse Pont I’Eveque in 1940. He became a breeder of thoroughbred horses, one of whom, Pinza, won the Derby in 1953, and came to be commemorated by the Fred Darling Stakes, run at Newbury. His father Sam Darling trained two Derby winners.
Marcus Marsh went on to train the Aga Khan’s horses too and won the Derby for him with Tulyar in 1952, Smirke again in the saddle. Two years earlier the same combination bagged the Two Thousand Guineas with Palestine. His autobiography Racing with the Gods, published in 1968, was based on a lifetime at the courses, and in particular his experiences with legendary owners like the Maharaja of Rajpipla and the Aga Khan. Marsh died in 1983 at the age of 79.
Windsor Lad’s Derby triumph propelled Marsh into the big league. The young trainer turned a horse few people took notice of, into a celebrated Derby winner. He was showered with encomiums all around for his expert training of the colt.
Leicester Evening Mail: “Marcus Marsh, the trainer of Windsor Lad, took an appointment as an assistant to Fred Darling and was at Beckhampton when Fred Darling won the Derby with Manna in 1925 and Coronach in 1926. In 1929 he was responsible for training the horses of Captain Gooch while the latter was incapacitated, and began training on his own account three years ago.”
Carlton in Manchester Dispatch: “It was a memorable moment for Marcus Marsh, the trainer of Windsor Lad, when he saw his charge pass the judge’s box with a length to spare. He was the youngest of the trainers with a runner in the Derby, and this is his first year as a public trainer. I need hardly add that the father of Marcus Marsh was in charge of the Royal stables for many years and won the Derby with Jeddah, Persimmon, Diamond Jubilee and Minoru.”
Stable Boy in Birmingham Gazette: “The horse was trained by Marcus Marsh, a younger son of the late Richard Marsh, who for many years was trainer to King George V, and the late King Edward VII.”
Liverpool Post: “The winning trainer, Marcus Marsh, is a younger son of the late Richard Marsh, who for many years was trainer for King George V, and the late King Edward VII. He said of Windsor Lad: ‘He has never given me any trouble. He has the kindest disposition of any horse I have ever had in my stable. I always knew he would stay the course and now he has proved it’.”
Bouverie in The Daily Mirror, “It was a wonderful triumph for Marcus Marsh, who is one of the youngest trainers and, of course, a son of the late Richard Marsh, who trained three Derby winners for King Edward. Early this year, when the horses moved to Lambourn, Marsh asked particularly that Windsor Lad should have the box that stabled Felstead before his Derby triumph. He was given it, with happy results.”
Hotspur in The Daily Telegraph, “We must not forget the big parts played by the trainer and jockey. If only the late Richard Marsh could have been spared to witness the success of a Derby winner trained by his son! The King’s trainer himself trained the Derby winners Jeddah, Persimmon, Diamond Jubilee and Minoru. Now his son, who is a young man and most able for his years, has achieved this fine thing for the Indian ruler.”
Gary Owen in Manchester Dispatch, “The trainer, Marcus Marsh, is a son of Richard Marsh, who for many years was the Royal trainer. One of the first to congratulate Marsh was Colombo’s trainer Captain Hogg. Smirke, the successful jockey, is one of Wootton’s best pupils and this was his first classic victory.”
Augur (Capt. R.C. Long) in The Sporting Life: “To Marcus Marsh, son of the late Richard Marsh, one-time trainer to late King Edward and to King George, are tendered hearty congratulations. He placed complete confidence in Windsor Lad since he won the Chester Vase a month ago. It is a remarkable achievement by a comparatively young trainer. When his father retired from Egerton House Marcus Marsh took on appointment as assistant to Fred Darling. In 1929 he was responsible for training the horses of Captain Gooch while the latter was incapacitated by a hunting accident. He began training on his own account three years ago.”
The Morning Post: “The result was a great triumph for Windsor Lad’s young trainer, Marcus Marsh, a son of the late Richard Marsh, who trained the Derby winners Persimmon, Diamond Jubilee and Minoru for King Edward as well as Jeddah for Mr. Larnach. Some years ago Marcus Marsh served as assistant trainer to his uncle, Fred Darling, who now supplied the runner-up to Windsor Lad. Marsh, who always had the idea that Windsor Lad would train on to a Derby winner, is entitled to the utmost credit for the perfect condition in which the colt took the field.”
Corsair in Sheffield Independent: “It was a memorable moment for Marcus Marsh, the trainer of Windsor Lad, when he saw his charge pass the judge’s box with a length to spare. He is the youngest among trainers with a runner in the Derby, and this is his first year as a public trainer. When Captain Gooch met with a serious hunting injury Marsh took over the horses and saddled many good winners. I need hardly add that the father of Marcus Marsh was in charge of the Royal stables for many years and won the Derby with Jeddah, Persimmon, Diamond Jubilee and Minoru.”
Gimcrack in Daily Sketch: “The success of the Maharajah of Rajpipla’s colt, which was comfortably gained by a length, was a triumph for three men – the owner, who always had faith in his horse, the trainer, Marcus Marsh, the son of the man who trained three Derby winners for King Edward, and Charles Smirke, the jockey, who staged a great come-back after his period of several years’ inactivity on the Turf.”
Glasgow Bulletin: “Marcus Marsh, who trained Windsor Lad, is a younger son of the late Richard Marsh, who for many years was trainer for King George V, and the late King Edward VII. Mr. Marsh stated that Windsor Lad was purchased at the July sales at Newmarket two years ago for £1300. ‘He has never given me or anyone connected with the stable any trouble,’ he added, ‘and I have never known a horse with a kindlier disposition.’ One of the first to congratulate Marsh was Colombo’s trainer, Captain Hogg. Thrusting out his hand, and saying, ‘Put it there, old boy,’ Marsh thanked him and condoled with Hogg on his own disappointment.”
The Picquet in News Chronicle: “Marcus Marsh had Windsor Lad looking beautiful. He is one of our youngest trainers – he has only been ‘on his own’ for a year – but he has inherited the magic touch of his father, the late Richard Marsh, with classic horses. He bought this colt for 1,300 guineas as a yearling on his own judgement, and wisely never attempted to do much with him last season. I mentioned after he won the Chester Vase with Windsor Lad how, when he rented part of Captain Bell’s stabling at Lambourn, he asked which box Felstead had stood in before he won the Derby, and promptly put Windsor Lad there.”
Observer: “It is pleasant to be able to compliment Marcus Marsh, son of one of the greatest trainers of his time, on the superb condition on which he brought the colt into the field. It was a bold decision of the trainer not to bother about the Two Thousand Guineas. The policy of taking the colt out of that race and concentrating on training him for the Derby was happily conceived and brilliantly successful in its result.”
Sunday Sportsman: “It was a great triumph for young Marcus Marsh, who never wavered in his belief that the son of Blandford would win and sent him out fit to run for a kingdom. Marcus Marsh, the young trainer of Windsor Lad, is the son of the late Richard Marsh, who trained four Derby winners, three for the late King Edward – Persimmon, Diamond Jubilee and Minoru – and Jeddah for Mr. Larnach. Marsh is a nephew of Fred Darling, the trainer of four Derby winners. Incidentally, the nephew was first, and the uncle second with Easton.”
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email email@example.com).