He’s kicked many goals over his lucrative English soccer career and now the recently retired Michael Owen will look to score Australia’s greatest racing prize with his smart stayer Brown Panther a chance for the Melbourne Cup 2013 this November.
The Tom Dascombe-trained Shirocco five-year-old is only lightly raced with 15 starts to date, their most notable finish being a second in the Group 1 English St Leger (2900m) at Doncaster back in September of 2011.
It was that run behind Masked Marvel from the then top-ranking three-year-old that caught the eye of Racing Victoria international talent scouts.
Last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival there were rumours Brown Panther would make the trip down under to target the two big cups following their nice win over Lost In The Moment in the Listed Castle Stakes (2400m) in June.
He was also far from disgraced when seventh in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2414m) at Royal Ascot at their following start beaten only four lengths by the winner Danedream when carrying a hefty 60.5kg.
However connections decided to keep them at home in the end where they had three more runs, most notably finishing just a quarter length away third to Royal Diamond in the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) at The Curragh in mid-September.
Brown Panther failed their next assignment travelling to France however when beaten 23 lengths in the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak (3100m), a disappointing effort that had Owen and co. querying how the horse would have gone in the world’s richest handicap at Flemington Racecourse.
There were excuses however as the Royal Oak was run on a rain-affected track which definitely wasn’t to Brown Panther’s liking.
Spelled after that disastrous finish they resumed racing this year with a successful title defense in the Castle Stakes at Pontefract, a firm track giving them a nice advantage, winning by a tidy three and a half lengths.
“He is in good shape and we are happy with him,” breeder and part-owner Ownen, 33, said.
“He seems in really happy and he has kept all of his enthusiasm for the game so I couldn’t be more pleased with him.”
Owne is now keener than ever to send them on a plane to Australia for a shot at the iconic $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) held on Tuesday November 5 however he knows that there’s plenty that can go awry between now and then.
“Things can go wrong so I hate making plans but hopefully he will run at Glorious Goodwood and we will then go for the Irish St Leger,” he said.
“From there we will see if we can take a trip to the Australia. The Melbourne Cup is very much on our minds.”
Owen finished his career on the field with Stoke City in the English Premier League having previously played for Liverpool, Real Madrid and Mancherst United.
An 89-time English representative, during which time he kicked an incredible 40 goals, he co-owns Manor House Stables ace asset Black Panther with betting agency Betfair’s founder Andrew Black.
The Cheshire-based trainer of the galloper Dascombe meanwhile has never travelled to Australia and faces the hoodoo of being the first England-based trainer to win the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Australian bookmakers are yet to add Brown Panther into their future Melbourne Cup betting markets which are led by Puissance De Lune ($9).
To see which horses are installed in the pre-nomination Melbourne Cup odds head over to bookmaker.com.au and enjoy access to all the spring’s best ante-post markets!