Memorable Sydney Cup quinella

Memorable Sydney Cup quinella13 Apr 2024

Almanzor’s ability to leave top class distance performers was again emphasised at Randwick where his sons Circle Of Fire and Athabascan dominated the finish of the G1 Sydney Cup.

The Ciaron Maher-trained Circle Of Fire claimed top honours and completed his rapid rise to the top of the staying ranks since his arrival in Australia.

He had finished fourth in his first two appearances before producing the perfect Cup lead-up when he triumphed in the G2 Chairman’s Quality over 2600 metres.

“I can’t thank my team and the owners enough, they’ve done a great job to get a horse in this condition to do it seven days apart, it’s some effort,” Maher said.

Circle Of Fire had few favours in the run under Hong Kong-based rider Andrea Atzeni and was caught wide without cover near the pace, but the four-year-old was resolute in the straight to have two lengths on a gallant Athabascan at the post.

“The plan was to get into a nice rhythm with a bit of cover. He raced very keen last time so we wanted to get in behind something,” Atzeni said.

“Wherever he landed I wanted to get cover. I tried early on to get in behind something and I couldn’t, so I went forward.

“He did it the hard way, so I didn’t know if he had a lot left in the tank. To be fair to the horse, he dug deep when the second horse came to him and the further he went, the better he was.”

Circle Of Fire is a half-brother to the G3 San Francisco Mile winner Evening Sun with their dam the Galileo mare Fiery Sunset, who won at 2400 metres.

He began his career in the colours of The Queen from the Newmarket stable of champion trainer Sir Michael Stoute and recorded a win and three stakes placings from six starts before relocating to Australia.