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Panther ready to pounce in Germany

TOM DASCOMBE accepts that Brown Panther faces a big step up in class when he contests the German Derby in Hamburg tomorrow, but he's ready for the test.

Brown Panther impressed with a six-length victory in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot and his trainer reported: "He has seemed fine since. He's put on all the weight he lost and we're very happy with him.

"I hear they've had 10 hours of rain, but the ground is what it is. What it is on the day is what we're going to run on -- there's no point worrying about it.

"It is another step up, but we wouldn't be sending him if we weren't fairly hopeful he'd be up to it."

The son of Shirocco is owned and was bred by Manchester United striker Michael Owen, who knows enough about racing, however, to understand the size of the task facing his pride and joy.

"He's only won a handicap, after all, as much as it was a fantastic day at Royal Ascot," said Owen. "He's not done anything yet, but the manner of the victory was very impressive.

"We love him, we think he's a top-class horse, and hopefully he can prove that in Germany. We've got a good draw in two, so that's a help."

Although the Richard Kingscote-ridden Brown Panther is the sole equine challenger from Britain or Ireland, Kieren Fallon, William Buick, Johnny Murtagh and Tom Queally are all taking part, with the Waterford man looking forward to getting the leg-up on Ibicenco, one of five entries for Jens Hirschberger.

"I sat on him on his penultimate start when he was third at Longchamp and thought he was unfurnished and lacked experience, so would certainly get better with each run," Queally said.

"He was just touched off on his subsequent run in the Group Three, and hopefully we can get a place."

Irish Independent