BROWN Panther can give part-owner Michael Owen a day to remember with victory in the Gold Cup on day three of Royal Ascot.
Brown Panther was bred by Owen himself out of his mare, Treble Heights, so the success he has enjoyed with the six-year-old surely means more to him than if he had just opened his cheque book.
Already a winner at the Royal meeting having taken the King George V Stakes at three, he has also finished second in the St Leger and run well in the Melbourne Cup for connections.
He appears to have really matured this season as he always needed plenty in his favour to show his best in previous years, but this campaign has seen him hack up at Chester and win the Henry II Stakes – arguably the best trial for this – in great style at Sandown.
It is hard to see anything that finished behind him there turning the tables, as the extra trip should suit the selection given he was going away at the line, so it appears he has Leading Light to beat.
Last year’s St Leger winner looked as good as ever when beating a solid field in the Vintage Crop Stakes on his return, but there has to be stamina doubts about him, despite the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt winning the Queen’s Vase last year over two miles. He was much the best horse in that so did not win through stamina and that extra four furlongs may just seem an awful long way.
Vazira can give Alain de Royer-Dupre a win for France in the Ribblesdale Stakes. The lightly-raced Aga Khan filly managed to finish third in the Prix Saint-Alary on just her third start, although the form did not get the chance to be tested in the Prix de Diane as the winner, We Are, missed the race with a setback.
The selection was a beaten favourite that day which suggests she is highly thought of at home and, given that the best of the European fillies ran in the Oaks, this is there for the taking as it does not look the strongest renewal of the Group Two.
The Norfolk Stakes can go to Mukhmal, trained in Middelham by Mark Johnston. This Bahamian Bounty colt showed good speed to win on his debut at Musselburgh but his next performance at Chester was even more eyecatching.
Having been drawn in a supposedly unfavourable stall ten in the Lily Agnes, he blasted out and was able to grab the rail before being given a breather and kicking on again. It cannot be stressed enough how hard it is to win from an outside draw over the minimum trip at Chester so he must possess a huge amount of pace, which is what you need to win this.
Cannock Chase looks like being hard to beat in the Tercentenary Stakes for Sir Michael Stoute. Second on his only start last season, he had no trouble breaking his maiden first time out this year at Windsor and went on to win the London Gold Cup at Newbury.
It would be no surprise to see Cannock Chase in top-class company but to live up to those expectations he must be winning a Group Three, despite official ratings suggesting he has plenty to find with a few of his rivals.
Hors De Combat was an easy winner at Newmarket last time out and might just be underestimated in the Britannia Stakes. James Fanshawe had him in the 2,000 Guineas until he finished only fourth at Newbury on his return, but that form has worked out well with the winner Muwaary going on to be fourth in the French Guineas.