Owen on a high after Panther pounces

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RETIREMENT from football has allowed Michael Owen more time to concentrate on racing interests, and his beloved Brown Panther offered up his greatest success as an owner to date in the Artemis Goodwood Cup.

The former England international-bred Brown Panther from his cherished mare Treble Heights, and his five-year-old has already provided a Royal Ascot victory as well as placing in the St Leger. There could be a greater challenge to come, with Owen and trainer Tom Dascombe suggesting a tilt at the Emirates Melbourne Cup could be in the offing after he beat a large field of stayers by three-and-a-half lengths.

Starting at two miles for only the second time, Brown Panther (13-2) was not ridden cautiously by Richard Kingscote and secured a healthy advantage a furlong from home, while several of his colleagues were too restrained. Notable among those were Eduardo Pedroza, who revealed his inexperience of the course by leaving Altano too much to do as he stayed on for third.

Jamie Spencer was a long way behind aboard 3-1 favourite Mount Athos turning for home, but he could not trigger much response and was only eighth.

Owen said: “It’s fabulous, especially as you look at the heritage of this race going back 200 years. He hasn’t been over-raced and there were headlines about him after his win at Ascot, I suppose because of him being associated with me. It’s a totally different experience to football, where you feel you’re in some sort of control, it’s in your hands, but this racing game is so tough on the nerves – you’re powerless.

“You send your jockey out to ride and you hope your trainer has got him spot-on. Tom and Richard have done a brilliant job, and Andrew Jackson who rides him out every day.

“We thought about the Melbourne Cup last year and we were thinking about it again this year, prior to this race. As long as he didn’t bomb out today we were thinking Irish St Leger and then Melbourne Cup. I haven’t talked to Tom or Bert (Black, joint owner), but I don’t see why we should change our mind.”

At Musselburgh tonight, Red Baron bids to extend his excellent course record in the feature race. Eric Alston’s speedster, three times a course and distance scorer already this season, is one of 13 declared for the £12,000 Cashino Gaming – The Way To Win@Musselburgh Handicap. The Preston trainer said: “He obviously loves the place but he’s got a 6lb penalty for his latest win last week.

“I’ve always thought the world of this horse and I’m really 
looking forward to next year when he will be an even more exciting prospect.”

Meanwhile, David Brown has been appointed managing director of Ayr Racecourse, succeeding Richard Johnstone. Brown joined the racecourse management team as accountant in 2005 and became finance director in 2007. Johnstone will remain co-owner and director of Ayr.