German loss for Owen and O’Brien mixed bag
Undertones of nationalism through the racing weekend ultimately proved discordant for the British, who saw one of their champions beaten on home soil and another chastened on his return to a foreign field.
Close Call: (above, right) So You Think on way to winning the Eclipse at Sandown and (right) Zoffany was second at Chantilly
Michael Owen's Brown Panther could not justify his billing as favourite for the German Derby yesterday, while the colt who won the Epsom original last year, Workforce, had succumbed to So You Think, the Australian import, at Sandown the previous day.
Nowadays stabled with Aidan O'Brien in Co Tipperary, So You Think may yet be sent “home” in search of a third success in the Cox Plate this autumn, provided quarantine issues can be resolved.
If so, there would be an irresistibly piquant sub-plot, his former trainer having allowed resentment of his sale and export to fuel some trenchant observations about his new environment.
To beat Bart Cummings and company in their own back yard would be especially sweet for O'Brien.
So You Think sustained an unflinching charge at Workforce through the final two furlongs on Saturday.
The final margin of half a length does inadequate justice to the authority of his inexorable challenge.
Workforce was by no means diminished by defeat and connections are entitled to hope that he could yet embellish his stud profile with a Group One success over 10 furlongs, but their priority will be the defence of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.
Ryan Moore, who rode Workforce on Saturday, rejoined the Ballydoyle cause in France yesterday when narrowly foiled on Zoffany in the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly.
Richard Hughes gave the Jersey Stakes winner Strong Suit an artful ride from the front and was only collared in the dying strides, with Mutual Trust sticking his nose in front just in time under Maxime Guyon and holding Zoffany in a three-way photo. The winner, trained by Andre Fabre for Khaled Abdulla, is now unbeaten in four and may meet Goldikova at Deauville next month.
The most intriguing overseas raid of the day, however, was that of Brown Panther, whose owner once made a global breakthrough on German turf.
This colt had given Owen his biggest success in the sport when running away with a handicap at Royal Ascot, but could manage only fifth behind Waldmark.