Circle Of Fire firms for the Sydney Cup 2024

Imported stayer Circle Of Fire has firmed to the second line of Sydney Cup betting after securing a ballot exemption into the Group 1 race with a narrow-but-impressive victory in the Chairman’s Quality at Randwick.

In his third Australian start, the English import was sent out the $3.60 betting app favourite in Saturday’s Group 2 race over 2600m and the four-year-old chased down Hopeful to score by a long neck with Double Cherry another 1-1/4-lengths away third.

The winner of the Chairman’s is exempt from ballot and weight penalty for next Saturday’s Sydney Cup (3200m) at the same track, and Circle Of Fire firmed from $11 to $6 with Aussie betting sites after the victory.

Circle Of Fire has been allocated 50kg in the Sydney Cup but all weights are expected to increase at acceptance time.

Last Saturday’s Tancred Stakes runner-up More Felons heads the Sydney Cup market at $4.50 with Circle Of Fire’s stablemate Ashrun also at $6.

Trainer Ciaron Maher confirmed the Sydney Cup was in his plans for Circle Of Fire so long as the horse comes through the win as he hopes he will.

He said the Chairman’s Quality had been part of the Sydney Cup plan for the lightly raced stayer, just as last week’s Doncaster Prelude was part of the plan to secure Another Wil his Doncaster Mile exemption.

“Because we were down in the ratings we had to win a race like this,” Maher said.

“A bit like Another Wil.

“He looked a bit fresh today so hopefully that’s just what he needed.

“Hopefully he pulls up well. He looks like he has pulled up pretty good, and we can roll on to next week.”

Circle Of Fire’s first Australian victory took his overall record to two wins from nine starts.

He was ridden to victory by apprentice Dylan Gibbons, who steered Explosive Jack to Sydney Cup success last year for the Maher stable.

The Offer in 2014 is the most recent stayer to complete the Chairman’s Quality-Sydney Cup double in 2014 while Knight’s Order (2022), Selino (2021), Shraaoh (2019) and Grand Marshal (2015) all came through the Chairman’s on their way to winning the Sydney Cup.

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