Circle Of Fire outstays rivals in Sydney Cup

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Circle Of Fire

Andrea Atzeni has made the worthwhile trip to Australia to the claim the Sydney Cup (3200m) aboard Circle Of Fire (+450) at Randwick on Saturday afternoon.

It comes on the one-week backup after the -trained gelding proved too strong in the Group 2 (2600m) last Saturday, handling the Heavy track to score by a half-length on the wire.

He was even more impressive on Saturday, with the son of Almanzor being caught three-wide the journey under Atzeni, still running his rivals into the ground to claim his first Group 1 success at start 10.

The race was run at a genuine tempo courtesy of the Gai Waterhouse & -trained (+2200) bounding to the front under , while an early mid-race move by Stockman (+8000) injected some speed into the middle stages.

Atzeni allowed Circle Of Fire to get into a rhythm three-wide throughout, making sure his mount stayed clear of any traffic issues.

(+500) was able to get the perfect trail on the back of the race favourite, stalking the eventual winner every step of the way, while Group 1 (2400m) winner Kalapour (+1100) was biding his time on the inside, ready to strike in the final 400m.

When it became a genuine staying test, however, the best stayer got the job done convincingly in the end, as Circle Of Fire cruised to victory by two lengths in the Sydney Cup.

There were emotional scenes all around at Randwick on Saturday as Ciaron Maher spoke to the victory and what it meant to Andrea Atzeni to salute for his friend who recent passed, Stefano Cherchi.

“It is unbelievable,” said Maher.

“Fitting this week as Andrea (Atzeni) was such good mates with Stefano (Cherchi).

“The horse, he was unbelievable. Andrea, he had to be confident and that was unbelievable.

“I can't thank my team, the owners, enough.

“They've done a great job to get a horse in this condition to do it seven days apart. Some effort.

“To WIll Bourne, getting the horse and sourcing it, phenomenal.

“There's one other Cup in the spring and they're very fortunate and lucky owners. I'm rapt for Andrea. I met him in Italy after Royal last year. He's a great rider and an exceptional fella. I couldn't be more thrilled for him.”

Andrea Atzeni embraced the Stefano Cherchi family post-race and dedicated the win to his friend.

“It is definitely for him,” said Atzeni.

“It has been a tough time for his family and it is amazing to see them here.

“It must be very tough for them to be here, and they are here because I came.

“It wouldn't have been an easy decision for them to come racing today. It shows how tough they and and it shows that unfortunately Stefano left us doing what he wanted to do and what he loved doing.

“I know him quite well. We spent a lot of time together at Newmarket and I kept in touch with him closely when he moved to Australia. I thought it was a great idea for him to come here and try his luck.

“I came to see Stefano when he was still with us. I spent about 15 hours with him. I left because I was riding in on the Sunday and unfortunately I got the bad news that Stefano has left us.

“You think you're prepared for something like this but when it comes to it, you can't prepare.

“I have been speaking to his parents and sister every day and I can't talk how highly enough they have been treated in Australia. The doctors, the nurses, everyone in racing.”
Atzeni then spoke to the win of his mount Circle Of Fire.

“The plan was to 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. I jumped away nicely.

“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.”

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