Former Chester Cup hero Magic Circle will be in the care of Richard Fahey this season after moving from Ian Williams.
The Dr Marwan Koukash-owned eight-year-old shot to prominence in the big handicap on the Roodee in 2018 and added the Group Three Henry II Stakes afterwards in emphatic fashion, before being put away for a Melbourne Cup bid.
That was to end in disappointment as he finished down the field behind Cross Counter, with the Makfi gelding found to have burst a blood vessel during the race.
Explaining the switch, Koukash told Sky Sports Racing: “It’s just a change of scenery. He’s in good shape and I was really looking forward to running him in the Chester Cup.
“He’s in really good form. Richard thinks a lot of him, he had fitness issues last year but he is back to his best and I was genuinely looking forward to seeing him run.”
On the decision to swerve the 2018 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, Koukash said: “We decided to save him and protect his handicap mark – had he gone to the Gold Cup and won it then you’d probably have no chance of winning the Melbourne Cup, as you’d carry a lot of weight as a result.
“So we decided to protect him and to me it was more important to try to win the Melbourne Cup than Gold Cup, with all due respect to the Gold Cup.”
Meanwhile, Koukash – who has such an affinity with Chester – hopes a resumption of racing in Britain is on the horizon.
He said: “I think racing will be the first sport to come back, it has very limited contact and can easily be managed. I really hope we can see some action by the end of the month.
“Racing this year is not going to be the same as we’ve had before. We just have to adapt slowly and we won’t get back to normality until probably into next year, but I’m quite confident racing will be the first sport to come back.
“I was speaking to the guys at Chester racecourse and hopefully they can find a way of running the Chester Cup later in the year.”