BROWN Panther sparked dreams of Ascot Gold Cup glory for Michael Owen after his pride and joy downed hot favourite Hillstar to win the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes at Chester.
Former England striker Owen, who bred the six-year-old, was brought to tears when he won at Royal Ascot three years ago and since then there have been other highlights.
He has taken Owen, fellow owner and co-founder of Betfair Andrew Black and trainer Tom Dascombe to the Melbourne Cup among other big meetings – but it is only now they are seeing his full potential.
Richard Kingscote was able to track the pace early on before kicking clear with three furlongs to run and the 6-4 chance drew the sting out of Sir Michael Stoute’s King Edward VII winner Hillstar, winning by two and a quarter lengths.
As Dascombe is based in Cheshire, Chester’s May meeting is one they like to target but it took until the final day to get off the mark. Sandown’s Henry II Stakes is likely next before a return to the Royal meeting.
Dascombe said: “He seems to get me out of trouble often, I think I’d had about 50 runners without a winner – they’d all been running really well but we couldn’t get one past the line. Anyway, he’s done it so that was great.
“He travelled beautifully, he got a good lead and settled well. I was pretty confident most of the way round. He’s got a little cut, we’ll get it looked at but I don’t think it’s a serious problem.
“He’s an honest horse and he’s getting easier to train. He’s been buzzing at home.”
On plans for Brown Panther, Dascombe said: “We are sort of discussing going to Sandown, there’s a nice two-miler there at the end of the month (Henry II Stakes). It was either York and Ascot, or here, Sandown and Ascot and I think that’s what we’ll do.”
Owen said: “We mapped out the Ascot Gold Cup as the big early-season target and we thought we might as well come to Chester first. Everyone knows our love of the track and it’s our part of the world.
“We’ll think about Melbourne again and Champions Day also comes into the equation with a Group Two race, but we’ll get the first half of the season out of the way first.”
Dascombe and Kingscote doubled up in the Merseyrail Day Saver Ticket Maiden Fillies’ Stakes with Destiny’s Kitten (7-1).
Kingfisher got on top close home to give Aidan O’Brien a fifth win in the Betfair Cash Out Dee Stakes.
Having taken the prize for the last two years with Astrology and Magician, who subsequently went on to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, O’Brien saw Kingfisher win by a length from Bow Creek as the 11-4 joint-favourite.
“He’s gone through the ground,” said the trainer’s son and winning jockey Joseph O’Brien.
“They injected a bit of pace down the back and I was caught flat-footed for half a furlong on the ground. Once I got him on an even keel he went to the line well.
“Back on better ground and up in trip will suit. Things didn’t go right today and he still won.”
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