The Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh is set to be the next port of call for The Grey Gatsby following a fine effort in defeat in Dubai over the weekend.
The four-year-old enjoyed a tremendous campaign in 2014, winning the Dante at York and the French Derby before defeating Australia in the Irish Champion Stakes.
He was a hot favourite to make a winning reappearance in the Dubai Turf on Saturday, but was ultimately no match for the hugely impressive French challenger Solow over the nine-furlong trip.
Trainer Kevin Ryan reports his charge to have taken his exertions well and he is set to return to Ireland on 24 May before a likely tilt at the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Ryan said: “He’s come out of the race fine and is on his way home. The horse ran great. He ran a tremendous race over a trip short of his best and it was never the plan to take him out there fully tuned up.
“The Tattersalls Gold Cup will be his next race before Ascot.”
Tom Dascombe will consider options at home and abroad for Brown Panther following his terrific triumph in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan on Saturday. Last season’s Irish St Leger hero, owned by former England footballer Michael Owen, justified favouritism with a brilliant display in the desert and his trainer admits he would love another crack at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June, a race in which he passed the post fourth last summer. However, Brown Panther is likely to be seen in action before then, with races at Chester, York and in Japan in the melting pot.
Dascombe said: “He’s on his way home as we speak and I should think he’s somewhere over Europe at the moment.
“We were obviously delighted with him the other night. He ran right up to his mark and I think it’s probably as good a performance as he’s ever put in.
“We’ll just get him home and see how he is before we make any plans for him, but there are a few options. There is a two-mile race in Japan he could go for, but I understand the ground does get very quick there and the track is very sharp, which wouldn’t be ideal. He could run in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, but he’d have a big penalty there, and the other option is the Yorkshire Cup, which we’ve entered him in this morning.
“If I had a dream race to win it would be the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, so whether another flight to Japan would be good for his preparation for that would be open to question, so we’ll just have to see.”
Meanwhile, Merry King has been ruled out of the Crabbie’s Grand National with a breathing problem.
The eight-year-old, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, was around 25-1 for the Aintree spectacular on Saturday week.
Merry King was third in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in late November, but was pulled up over hurdles on his comeback run at the same track in early February.
The O’Neill stable have the ante-post favourite in Shutthefrontdoor, who will bid to give Tony McCoy a fairtytale victory in his final ride in the world’s greatest steeplechase before he retires.
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