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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Melbourne Cup a potential target for runaway Chester Cup winner Magic Circle

Cup glory: the Ian Williams-trained Magic Circle, ridden by Fran Berry, runs out an easy winner of the Chester Cup
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Convincing Chester Cup winner Magic Circle could be heading to Australia at the end of the year, with the Emirates Melbourne Cup a potential target.

The six-year-old ran away with the valuable handicap by six lengths on the Roodee last week, to the delight of his exuberant owner Marwan Koukash, who was winning the race for the fourth time.

In the immediate aftermath, Koukash indicated a Group race would be sought for Magic Circle, in order to qualify for Australia's biggest race, and trainer Ian Williams reaffirmed those intentions on Saturday.

Magic Circle surges clear under Fran Berry

Magic Circle is a 5-1 chance for Thursday's Group 3 Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes at Sandown, and that race is a probable destination. Williams said: "It's fairly likely he'll go to Sandown, he seems to have come out of the race [at Chester] really well. The Melbourne Cup is a plan we're making, and to do that he needs to have Group form."

Koukash's last Chester Cup win was in 2014 with Suegioo, who, after his Chester success, went to Newcastle for the Northumberland Plate where he was beaten by another of the owner's runners in Angel Gabrial.

Click here to view the Henry II Stakes card

The same path is unlikely for Magic Circle, as Williams added: "I'm not convinced the Northumberland Plate will suit him now it's on the all-weather."

Williams also harbours concerns that the Sky Bet Ebor, in which Magic Circle finished a fine fifth last year, might not offer a sufficient stamina test.

Marwan Koukash: the boy who went from barefoot refugee to king of the Roodee

In what proved to be some inspired sales shopping, Williams provided Koukash with a Chester double, courtesy of Restorer, who like Magic Circle, was making his debut for the yard.

Restorer leads at the two furlong mark before stretching clear to win at Chester

The six-year-old could now be York-bound. Williams said: "Restorer will need a little bit more time between his races. The handicapper has been fair [5lb rise] and we'd be looking at the John Smith's Cup."

Reflecting on the brace of victories, the trainer added: "It was great for the yard and the team as the Chester Cup's a great race to win and it was testament to their hard work that both horses won on their debut for us."

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The Melbourne Cup is a plan we're making, and to do that he needs to have Group form
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