MICHAEL OWEN admitted to being ‘a little bit excited’ at winning one of the most famous races of all, the Goodwood Cup.
The former Liverpool, Manchester United and England striker is the breeder and part owner of Brown Panther, who was an impressive winner of the Group 2 Artemis-sponsored contest on Ladies’ Day, the third day of the festival.
Afterwards he said racing was a nerve-shredder compared to football because as soon as you sent your horse to post, you had no control. Luckily for Owen, jockey Richard Kingscote did have brilliant control of the Tom Dascombe-trained runner to land the big prize.
Running over two miles for only the second time in his career, the five-year-old showed stamina and class to prevail by three and a half lengths from Ahzeemah and Kieren Fallon.
Kingscote was trapped in the pack on the 13/2 shot with two furlongs to go, but when the gap came, Brown Panther shot clear and the race was over within a matter of strides.
German raider Altano claimed third, but the 3/1 favourite Mount Athos was given plenty to do from the rear of the field and never looked like winning.
Owen said: “There is a lot of heritage in this race and it’s a fabulous race to win. He’s full of stamina. We didn’t want it to be a dawdle and hence we were up there in the box seat, just in case there was no pace.
“The leader all the way (No Heretic) did us a favour and gave us a nice lead. He’s galloped all the way to the line. It’s a great training performance from Tom Dascombe and a great ride by Richard Kingscote.
“With football you always feel you’re in some sort of control. You and your team-mates are in control, but this racing game is so tough on the nerves - you’re powerless.
“You send your jockey out to ride and you hope your trainer has got him spot-on. I was a little bit excited. 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 today we were thinking Irish St Leger and then Melbourne Cup, so, on that performance, I don’t see why we should change our mind.”
Kingscote said: “He was stepping up to two miles and I was really confident he’d love the track. I was delighted after the first couple of furlongs, just to get a lead off Jamie (Spencer, Mount Athos’ rider). It’s brilliant. This is what it’s about and it’s great for everyone in the yard.”
Trainer Tom 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.
“We’ve taken our time and tried to pick races this year. We’ve tried to get him spot-on for each day and it seems to be working a bit better than it was.
“This was the plan, this was the target. Hopefully we’ll move on if he’s all right after this. 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, so this is massive.”
It wasn’t Owen’s first success of the day - he also has a stake in Bellevue Beauty, who won the Magnolia Cup ladies’ charity race with Philippa Holland on board. Holland fell after her second straight victory in the race but was fine.
The race is likely to have raised close to £200,000 for charity.
The ladies’ showpiece was the perfect way to start Glorious’s most stylish day - which this year was lit up by the presence of Zara Phillips, who performed the presentations after the Goodwood Cup, and celebrities including actress Anna Friel.
The first of the day’s big races was the Group 2 Audi Richmond Stakes, which resulted in a third win of Glorious week for Ryan Moore on the William Haggas-trained Saayerr, the 5/1 second-favourite, who beat Jamie Spencer and Cable Bay by a neck.
Haggas’s wife Maureen said: “He stayed on well. William has always really loved him and he ran well at Ascot but not quite well enough. It was a bit disappointing that he wasn’t closer but it’s great that he has won a nice race.
“He’s always been one of William’s favourite two-year-olds. We liked him since we got him at the sales and he’s a real, solid professional two-year-old. I think that six furlongs is his trip but his next race is William’s department really.”
Winning rider Ryan Moore added “I think that the step a furlong helped him but five furlongs at Ascot is not a massive difference to six furlongs here.
“The race panned out quite well for him. They didn’t go mad for the first two furlongs but I got a nice tow into the race for a good part of the race. Jamie’s horse came on the outside but my horse found a bit more and just did enough.”
For the second day in a row, the opening race went to Mark Johnston, one of Goodwood’s most successful trainers of recent times, thanks to Franny Norton’s three-quarters-of-a-length success on 8/1 chance Broughton in the Gordon’s Stakes.
It was a dead heat for second and third between Ryan Moore on Red Avenger and Andrea Atzeni on Aussie Reigns.
Winning jockey Norton said: “I went for a danger run down the far side, to get the better ground,” he said, “and I got caught in a bit of a pocket. And he got me out of it, he likes all that argy-bargy through horses.
“I love this horse. He’s come a long way in quite a short time. He’s got a nice turn of foot and he’s tough and genuine.
“You can’t underestimate Mr Johnston’s horses - they can flop one week and go and win their next three starts.”
Lady Cecil’s Wild Coco cruised to victory in the Group 3 Blackrock Fillies’ Stakes for the second successive year after going off as 5/6 favourite.
It was another lovely Goodwood moment the day after the crowd watched a tribute to her late husband Sir Hencry Cecil before the Sussex Stakes.
Tom Queally’s only concern would have come in the form of Sir Michael Stoute’s Elik but Wild Coco was a two-and-a-half length winner.
Queally said: “It’s very pleasing. Obviously she’s been off the track a long time. We’ve been waiting for the ground and thankfully it’s very safe. She certainly wouldn’t want it any quicker.
“I wanted to keep her on the bridle as long as possible, but she travelled through the race with conviction and did it well at the end.”
Lady Cecil said: “It’s been so frustrating with the ground for her this season, it’s a relief to finally get her out. This is a stepping stone to later in the season. She’s in the Yorkshire Oaks and has a few options at the end of the season. Hopefully, by then, we should get her ground.”
Also popular with the sun-baked crowd was a first win of the week for Goodwood favourite Frankie Dettori, who cantered to a six-length success on 7/2 joint favourite Amazing Maria for trainer Ed Dunlop in the EBF British Stallion Studs New Ham Maiden Fillies’ Stakes. There was no flying dismount afterwards to the disappointment of the crowd who’d gathered at the winner’s enclosure for just such a spectacle.
Richard Fahey - winning trainer in Tuesday’s Lennox Stakes - was back at the No1 post after Paul Hanaghan got the verdict in a photo finish on 7/1 shot Majestic Moon in the Tatler Stakes. Roger Charlton’s Pythagorean was the unlucky runner nudged into second.
The last, the QIPCO Future Stars Apprentice Stakes, went to Ryan Tate on the Clive Cox-trained Highland Duke (16/1). The end of the race was overshadowed by a nasty fall suffered by Siobhan Miller, who came off Mean It after it had crossed the line.
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