It’s one down and two to go for progressive European stayer Brown Panther who is set to contest the Irish St Leger and then the iconic Melbourne Cup after their commanding victory in the Group 2 Artemis Goodwood Cup (3218m) this week.
Just moments into Friday morning (AEST) the Shirocco five-year-old, bred and part-owned by retired superstar footballer Michael Owen, beat home a field full of Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival maybes in the highly anticipated Goodwood Cup.
Owen was thrilled with the stallion’s winning effort, Brown Panther putting three and a half lengths on another Melbourne Cup hopeful in Godolphin’s Ahzeemah with the German-based Altano a long way back for third.
He was also very pleased by the riding efforts from jockey Richard Kingscote and the training performance of the Malpas-based Tom Dascombe.
“It’s a totally different feeling to football,” Owen said after the win according to The Guardian.
“I always felt reasonably in control because you’ve got your destiny in your hands out there, in many ways, but this racing game tests your nerves.
“You’ve got nothing to do with it, you’re just sat there in the stands, hoping that the trainer’s done his job and the jockey does his.
“They’ve both done it with aplomb today.”
Dascombe was also over the moon with the Goodwood Cup result which is his biggest win as a trainer to date.
“It’s nice to win a race like this when you’re best known for two-year-old six-furlong horses,” The Telegraph reported the trainer saying.
“We decided at the start of this year to try and pick just four races for him and have him bang on for each of them.
“I don’t necessarily think that’s why he seems to have improved, I think it’s because he’s matured.”
Brown Panther came off a black type win at Pontefract over the 2400-metres and showed their ability to handle the two miles which is the same distance the coveted $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) is run over at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
And it is that distance that jockey Kingscote believes is the horse’s pet distance.
“The step up to two miles helped and I was really confident he would love the track,” he said.
“I was delighted to get a lead and it was just a question of enjoying it for the next mile.”
The Melbourne Cup has been in Owen’s sights for some time and the Goodwood Cup win by Brown Panther only cemented those ambitions.
“We thought about the Melbourne Cup last year and will think about it again,” Owen said.
“The plan was always Goodwood Cup, Irish Leger and Melbourne Cup. I don’t see any reason why those plans will change.”
The Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) runs at The Curragh in mid-September with Black Panther out to improve on their close third to Royal Diamond in the classic last year.
Brown Panther’s other major connection is Andrew Black, founder of Betfair, who said the decision to hold onto the horse despite offers to sell to Australian interests last year is paying off.
“When you’ve been this patient with a horse you don’t want to give it away,” he said.
“We’re not really interested (in selling).”
Black Panther’s Goodwood Cup win saw them skyrocket up the pre-nomination Melbourne Cup betting markets at the Australian bookmakers and they now sit around $17 as the fourth favourite behind Puissance De Lune ($7).