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Michael Owen reaches new goal with Goodwood Cup

By Chris McGrath

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 rather 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 Mount Athos turning for home, but he could not trigger much response from the 3-1 favourite 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 I suppose 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 completely 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, as well as Andrew Jackson who rides him out every day."

Looking ahead, Owen said: "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 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."

Dascombe said: "We probably haven't done as well as we should have done with him by now.

"I think the horse is helping us because he's maturing. This was the plan, this was the target.

"We've struggled for top-class horses. We've a few horses, but none quite as good as this. When you've only got a few you need to make them produce the results."

The Audi Richmond Stakes is also accorded Group Two status but the six-furlong juvenile event did not look one of the finest examples.

There was, though, little wrong with Ryan Moore's powerful ride as he continued the good form of the William Haggas stable, helping Saayerr (5-1) to stave off Cable Bay by a neck.

The winner had lost his unbeaten record in the Norfolk at Royal Ascot and Haggas' wife, Maureen, said: "William has always loved him. He ran very well at Ascot but just not well enough, and six furlongs is his trip."

Lady Cecil has been forced to tread carefully with Wild Coco (5-6 favourite), but it was worth the wait as she retained her Blackrock Fillies' Stakes with the minimum of fuss. Frankie Dettori was off the mark after Ed Dunlop's Amazing Maria (7-2 joint-favourite) taught a lesson to her less experienced rivals in the EBF British Stallion Studs New Ham Maiden Fillies' Stakes.

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