Marsh will saddle a pair of impressive last-start winners in feature races on the opening day of the carnival at Riccarton on Saturday, with Burn To Shine lining up in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) and Nest Egg contesting the Listed Metropolitan Trophy (2600m).
Marsh is shooting for a second victory in the 2000 Guineas, having previously captured the prestigious classic with Ugo Foscolo in 2016. He had the narrowest of near-misses four years later, when Bourbonaire was beaten by Aegon by a desperate nose in 2020.
This year Marsh will be represented by Burn To Shine, racing in the white and blue colours of owner-breeder The Oaks Stud.
The So You Think gelding has never finished further back than third in his six-start career, and his last-start performance was the best of his career so far – beating Trobriand and Lantern Way in a strong victory over the Guineas course and distance in the Group 3 War Decree Stakes (1600m) on October 28.
Burn To Shine will be ridden by Johnathan Parkes and is a second favourite behind dominant market leader Crocetti.
“It was a fantastic win last time out,” Marsh said. “He had his final serious hit-out on Tuesday morning. He was able to gallop on the course proper, which was in beautiful order. It was lovely work and he pulled up perfectly.
“It's a small, but very select Guineas field. We have the advantage of being settled in down there already, with a winning run over the mile at the course under our belt. Parkesy sticks with the ship. I think we've had a perfect preparation.”
Nest Egg not only goes into Saturday's Metropolitan Trophy as favourite for that race, but he is also the favourite for the Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) the following Saturday.
The Reliable Man gelding was a commanding last-start winner over 2400m at Te Rapa, taking control at the top of the straight and outclassing his Rating 84 rivals by three and a half lengths.
“He has been on a New Zealand Cup path all the way through this spring, and it was really pleasing to see him put away a talented field in good style last start,” Marsh said. “On a good track, stepping up in distance and with blinkers back on, he was terrific.
“He's been brilliant since then. I can't fault him at all. I don't think we could have him any better.
“They've had a bit of rain down there in the early part of the week, which should mean the track will just have a little bit of the fire out of it. That will really help him for the back-up into the Cup the following weekend.”
Marsh will also keep an eye on Saturday's northern meeting at Te Rapa, where he has more than a dozen horses entered including three in the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) – well-performed veteran Tightlign, last-start Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) placegetter Jodelin Gal, and the emerging mare Lincoln Lady, who has won all of her last four in a row.