Kingfisher swoops for O'Brien
Aidan O'Brien claimed his second Chester Derby trial in as many days as Kingfisher stayed on strongly to take the Dee Stakes.
Ryan Moore was aboard Orchestra on Thursday, but this time it was the trainer's son Joseph, who drove Kingfisher (11/4 joint favourite) to a length victory from Bow Creek.
It was the Ballydoyle supremo's fifth win in the race, although many punters preferred stablemate Century which was ridden by Moore, but found himself outpaced at a crucial stage.
"He's gone through the ground," said Joseph O'Brien. "They injected a bit of pace down the back and I was caught flat-footed for half a furlong on the ground.
"Once I got him on an even keel he went to the line well – back on better ground and up in trip will suit. Things didn't go right today and he still won."
Brown Panther sparked dreams of Ascot Gold Cup glory for Michael Owen after his pride and joy edged out hot favourite Hillstar to land the Ormonde Stakes.
Former Liverpool star Owen, who bred the six-year-old, was brought to tears when he won at Royal Ascot three years ago and since then there have been other highlights.
Brown Panther has taken Owen, fellow owner and co-founder of Betfair, Andrew Black, and trainer Tom Dascombe to the Melbourne Cup among other big meetings – but it is only now they are seeing his full potential.
Richard Kingscote was able to track the pace early on before kicking clear with three furlongs to run and the 6/4 chance drew the sting out of Michael Stoute's King Edward VII winner Hillstar, winning by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
"He seems to get me out of trouble often, I think I'd had about 50 runners without a winner," Dascombe said. "They'd all been running really well, but we couldn't get one past the line. Anyway, he's done it, so that was great.
"He travelled beautifully, he got a good lead and settled well. He's an honest horse and he's getting easier to train. He's been buzzing at home."
On plans, Owen said: "We mapped out the Ascot Gold Cup as the big early season target and we thought we might as well come to Chester first. Everyone knows our love of the track. We'll think about Melbourne again and Champions Day also comes into the equation with a Group Two race, but we'll get the first half of the season out of the way first."
Dascombe and Kingscote doubled up in the fillies maiden with Destiny's Kitten (7/1), while Andrew Balding's Here Comes When justified favouritism in the day's opener under Killarney native and teenage prodigy Oisin Murphy.
David Evans provided John Egan with a Chester winner as Verse Of Love (7/1) stayed on gamely to win the Betfair Price Rush Handicap. Verse Of Love nearly broke under the stalls and his nose almost hit the ground, forcing Egan to take one hand off the reins in rodeo style.
Despite that display of horsemanship Egan, who is based in Ireland, was banned for his use of the whip in the closing stages.