Punters back Williams’ runner as trainer aims to be the first Briton to win the ‘race that stops a nation.
As excitement builds for the Melbourne Cup at Flemington, plenty of punters are placing their bets on a British-trained horse winning the race for the first time in its 157-year history.
Magic Circle, owned by the charismatic Dr Marwan Koukash and trained by Worcestershire-based Ian Williams, romped home at the Chester Cup in May, winning by six lengths. A fortnight later he all but booked his place at the Melbourne Cup with a convincing victory in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown.
Punters have seen enough, and with last year’s winning jockey Corey Brown booked for the ride at Flemington, Magic Circle could mount a serious challenge down-under.
The most backed horse in this market since Saturday, with 14% of bets going his way, he currently sits second favourite. While some bookies have him at 6/1, the current best price available is 7/1.
The Irish contingent could represent the toughest opposition in the 3200 metre marathon. Aidan O’Brien’s charge Johannes Vermeer had to settle for second last year behind Rekindling, a horse ridden by Corey Brown and trained by O’Brien’s son, Joseph.
He’s sending plenty of firepower to Flemington this year, with a trio of runners including bookies’ favourite Yucatan, priced at 13/2. However, punters have been focusing their attention further down the market on his colt, Rostropovich (20/1). With 13% of bets placed since Saturday going on the three-year-old, he is the most backed behind Magic Circle.
Rostropovich won at Leopardstown in September before finishing fifth in a warm-up in the Cox Plate behind the insuperable Winx. Runner-up in the Irish Derby at Curragh recently, punters see the potential for a shock on Tuesday.
Oddschecker spokesperson George Elek said: “Picking the winner of the Melbourne Cup is notoriously difficult, and you may have thought that punters could be put off siding with Magic Circle due to the relatively skinny price in a race of this nature.
“That is not the case, as the public believe that Ian Williams can land a famous victory down under.”