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Australian Racing: Circle Of Fire to burn the competition

Day two of The Championships at Randwick is set to take centre stage on Saturday with four Group 1 races on a 10-race card that also features three Group 2 events.

Race 8 Randwick

Pride Of Jenni @ 4.40

Race 7 Randwick

Circle Of Fire @ 5.00

Race 9 Randwick

Zougotcha @ 3.80

Jenni to rule in Queen Elizabeth

The most valuable race of the day is the $5,000,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a Group 1 contest set to take place over 2000m.

Chris Waller’s Via Sistina is expected to jump a short-priced favourite, having made a winning Australian debut in Rosehill’s Group 1 Ranvet Stakes last month.

The six-year-old showed an impressive turn of foot to deliver a victory by over a length in the 2000m contest, which was held on a good 4 track.

The mare had previously shown good form in Europe including when winning at the top level in Ireland, prior to ending her European career with a Group 1 second at Ascot in October.

However, this looks a tougher race than the Ranvet and preference is for PRIDE OF JENNI for the Ciaron Maher team.

The selection has just the one way of running, from the front, and she made all the running to come home two lengths clear of her rivals in the All-Star Mile last month.

The mare raced over 1600m when coming home two lengths clear of her rivals that day and followed it up with a Group 1 second in the Australian Cup over this trip.

While the pick was overhauled late on in the Australian Cup at Flemington, she appeared to have little issue with the distance and is expected to get loose on the front end here.

Regular rider Declan Bates is again set to partner the mare and the pair are taken to register their fourth win together.

Fire for Cup glory

The 3200m Sydney Cup is the second of the Group 1 races at Randwick, with Ashrun expected to prove popular with punters with Craig Williams in the saddle.

The eight-year-old came home fourth in the Melbourne Cup back in November and has registered some solid efforts this prep.

Those efforts include a victory in the 2500m Pakenham Cup over 2500m, prior to recording a third in the 2400m Group 1 Tancred Stakes at Rosehill on 30th March.

While Ciaron Maher’s gelding looks to hold strong claims in this field, preference is for stablemate and fellow import CIRCLE OF FIRE.

The four-year-old recorded some decent efforts in the UK last year, including when fourth in the Queen’s Vase over 2816m at Royal Ascot last June.

The colt raced over shorter distances in his first two starts for the Maher team, including when fourth in a Benchmark 78 handicap over 1900m at Rosehill on 16th March.

The step up in distance and heavy 9 surface appeared to suit when the pick came home in front in the Group 2 Schweppes Chairman’s Quality over 2600m here.

Andrea Atzeni is an eye-catching jockey booking for the selection, who looks capable of saluting off a low weight.

Zougotcha to complete hat-trick

Chris Waller boasts two leading chances in the ninth race at Randwick, the 1600m Group 1 Queen Of The Turf.

ZOUGOTCHA and Atishu will jump from barriers one and two respectively, with preference for the former here.

The four-year-old recorded some good efforts in 2023, including when fourth in the 1200m Group 2 Sheraco Stakes at Rosehill in September.

The pick is unbeaten in two starts since returning from a spell, including when successful in the Group 2 Kia Millie Fox Stakes over 1300m at Rosehill in February.

The daughter of Zoustar duly completed a double when getting home by a narrow margin over 1500m in the Coolmore Classic at the same venue on 16th March.

The filly has forecast underfoot conditions to suit and, with a good barrier, looks capable of registering her second win at this level, having taken the Flight Stakes here in 2022.

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