Panther can copy Owen's success in Germany
Brown Panther lining up for Sunday's German Derby in Hamburg is the equivalent of the colt's owner Michael Owen turning out for a game at the Phoenix Park.
The only difference is this Group One race carries a pot of e300,000 to be collected by the winning connections. The track used for the premier German Classic is a public park for 51 weeks of the year. There is a jogging path two metres inside the running rail, and there are facilities for barbecues and general sports activities in the middle of the course.
Legend has it that the late Greville Starkey, adopting the role of trailblazer in a minor race several decades ago, turned into the back straight and came across a family enjoying a picnic on the turf. Imagine their surprise when a dozen thoroughbred race horses came galloping through to liven up their day.
Trainer Tom Dascombe is well aware of the track's reputation for throwing up the odd wine bottle or beer can, so he recently flew to Hamburg to check out the situation for himself.
"A lot of people had told me things about the place, but I was impressed by how wide the track is. One thing that worries me, though, is that they race only once a year, and when they do, it is for the entire week beforehand (prior to the Derby). You worry how much that will affect the going," he said.
Brown Panther was one of the most stunning winners seen at Royal Ascot this year. The authority he displayed was impressive, and Owen shed a tear as he welcomed back his talented homebred, who could well prove the best racehorse he has owned.
Owen will be anxious to revive happy memories of sporting trips to Germany -- it will be 10 years in September since he scored a hat-trick in England's 5-1 victory over Germany in a World Cup qualifier in Munich. (© Daily Telegraph, London)