FORMER footballer Michael Owen’s star performer, Brown Panther, could reappear at York’s Dante meeting next month following his runaway success in the Dubai Gold Cup.
The horse heads the entries, due to be published today, for the Betway Yorkshire Cup and is one of several options for the star stayer, who was also bred by the former England striker Owen.
Yorkshire hopes for the race are likely to rest with Peter Niven’s dual course winner Clever Cookie, while there is expected to a strong Yorkshire representation in the Duke of York Stakes for sprinters.
The York executive will also be hoping for a strong local representation in the feature Betfred Dante Stakes. Still regarded as the premier trial for the Epsom Derby, the past two winners –Libertarian and The Grey Gatsby – were trained in the White Rose county.
As for Brown Panther, trainer Tom Dascombe has high hopes for his 2011 Ladbrokes St Leger runner-up, who then got his career back on track by winning successive renewals of the Pontefract Castle Stakes at the testing West Yorkshire track.
The Ascot Gold Cup remains the dream – Brown Panther was third last year under jockey Richard Kingscote, who has made a remarkable recovery from multiple injuries sustained in a heavy fall on Wolverhampton’s all-weather surface last year.
“We’ll just get him home and see how he is, but there are a few options,” said Dascombe. “There is a two-mile race in Japan he could go for, but I understand the ground does get very quick there and the track is very sharp, which wouldn’t be ideal. He could run in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, but he would have a big penalty there, and the other option is the Yorkshire Cup, which we’ve entered him in this morning.
“If I had a dream race to win it would be the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, so whether another flight to Japan would be good for his preparation for that would be open to question.”
Top Irish jockey Joseph O’Brien misses his intended ride at Dundalk today because he cannot make the 9st 3lb weight, forcing renewed speculation about his future as a Flat rider.
When he rode over hurdles at Limerick on Sunday, O’Brien said he intended to ride at the Dundalk meeting but the ride on War Envoy, trained by his father Aidan, will now be taken by Ryan Moore, who continues to be coveted by the Ballydoyle operation.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Merry King, third in the Hennessy at Newbury, will miss the Crabbie’s Grand National due to a breathing problem.
The chaser is owned by Frank Gillespie whose Classic-winning Flat horse, The Grey Gatsby, was second to French raider Solow in the Dubai Turf at the weekend.
However, Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan says the current Yorkshire horse of the year is sound and likely to line up in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on May 24 before a tilt at the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Ryan said: “He ran a tremendous race over a trip short of his best and it was never the plan to take him out there fully tuned up.”
Tullius is to step up in trip following a successful seasonal debut in the Doncaster Mile.
Trainer Andrew Balding will consider the nine-furlong Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket on April 16 and the Gordon Richards Stakes over a mile-and-a-quarter at Sandown on April 24 for the seven-year-old.
Balding confirmed that Elm Park, winner of Doncaster’s Racing Post Trophy in October, remains on track for the Qipco 2000 Guineas – the first Classic of the 2015 Flat season.