Brown Panther remains a chance of contesting the 2014 Melbourne Cup after he finished a brave fourth behind Leading Light in the Group 1 Gold Cup (4000m) at the 2014 Royal Ascot meeting this morning.
Brown Panther loomed as a winning chance when he put his nose in front inside the last 2000 metres, but the Shirocco gelding tired in the final stages of the race to finish fourth behind Aidan O’Brien-trained Leading Light, Queen Of England-owned Estimate and veteran Irish mare Misunited.
Owner Michael Owen was thrilled with the brave performance of Brown Panther in the Gold Cup and he told At The Races after the race that another trip to Australia for a tilt at the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) in November was a possibility for his star galloper.
“He has been beaten by better horses but has still made us immensely proud,” Owen said.
“He always tries his best and has the heart of a lion.
This was his big target for the first half of the season.
“The Melbourne Cup is an option, as we had a great experience there last year and it’s something we’ll have to sit down and discuss.
“There are plenty of options, like the Goodwood Cup and the Irish St Leger, and the race back here on Champions Day.”
Trainer Tom Dascombe was confident that Brown Panther was a genuine winning chance in the 2014 Gold Cup and, despite the brave performance, was disappointed that the six-year-old had been unable to record his maiden Group 1 victory and will wait until the dust settles before he makes any future plans with Brown Panther.
“We’ve just been beaten in a Group 1 so we need to go home and think about it,” Dascombe said
“We are deflated, but he has done his best and that’s all he can do.”
The victory was Leading Light’s second at Group 1 level, after he took out the Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes (2937m) at Doncaster last year, but the Montjeu colt is unlikely to be sent to Australia for the Melbourne Cup.
Aidan O’Brien has not had a runner in the Melbourne Cup since 2008, when an inquiry was held into the tactics of his runners Septimus (18th), Alessandro Volta (20th) and Honolulu (21st) after they tired badly in the final stages of the race.
Brown Panther is currently available at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $34, while Gold Cup fifth placegetter Simenon is available at the same price after finishing fourth in last year’s Melbourne Cup.