English stayer Magic Circle earned his spot in the final field for the 2018 Group 1 $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday after winning consecutive races on his home soil.
Trainer Ian Williams brought Magic Circle for flamboyant owner Dr Marwan Koukash to try to win the £154,000 Chester Cup (3749m) at Chester in England, which he did in May this year.
Magic Circle then continued his winning form with a victory in the Group 3 £70,000 Henry II Stakes (3264m) at Sandown Park two weeks later and it was then decided to send the proven two miler to Australia for the Melbourne Cup.
“We found this horse last November and we bought him for 70,000 sterling, which isn’t a lot of money,” Williams told The Courier-Mail.
“He won the Chester Cup in May, so we thought we had a nice horse and we ran him in a Group 3 at Sandown, which he won and then we thought we had a really nice horse.
“We thought of what next and Marwan loves coming to Australia, because you guys make a fuss of him. He loves being outrageous and the one thing you do here is actually print some of the outrageous things he says, whereas back home they just ignore him.”
Williams acknowledged that the Melbourne Cup is highly regarded all around the world is a true international event with the number of international runners growing each year.
“It’s huge isn’t it? This is the biggest race in Australia, but it’s no longer the biggest race in Australia, it’s a huge race worldwide,” Williams said.
“I’m sure the locals aren’t mad keen about all the internationals turning up, but it makes the race what it is now.
“This isn’t an Australian race anymore, this is an international event and it’s a great international event.”
Last year’s winning Melbourne Cup jockey Corey Brown has secured the ride on Magic Circle who will jump from barrier seventeen in the twenty-four horse field.
Magic Circle is well in contention in the betting at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Melbourne Cup at $8 with the Aidan O’Brien trained Irish stayer Yucatan the only one ahead of him in the market order at $6.
On the third line of betting at $9 is the Charlie Appleby trained Cross Counter.