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PANTHER SUCCESS WOULD BE ICING ON THE CAKE By Howard Wright

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (erikarphotography.com)

TOM DASCOMBE is guaranteed at least one celebration in Dubai this week and hopes to make it two after Brown Panther (GB) runs in the Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors on Saturday.

As well as breeder and joint owner Michael Owen and his family, supporters of the seven-year-old, who tasted Group 1 success for the first time in last September’s Irish St Leger, will include Dascombe’s mother Sue and father Bill.

“It’s my mother’s 70th birthday on Friday,” Dascombe explained, after touching down in Dubai on Monday, “so we’ll be having one party whatever happens. Let’s hope there will be another one on Saturday.”

Dascombe, who began training in late 2005 and four years later moved to the purpose-built stable in Cheshire belonging to ex-England football international Owen and his business partner Andrew Black, is no stranger to success on Dubai World Cup night.

He shared in the glory two years running while assistant to Mike de Kock in 2003-04, when the stable struck with Victory Moon, Ipi Tombe, Lundy’s Liability and the dead-heater Right Approach.

This year is different, though, as Dascombe plots victory on his own account at the world’s richest single raceday for the first time.

Brown Panther, who boasts career earnings of almost £700,000 and at 118 is the highest-rated runner in the Dubai Gold Cup, ended last year with an abortive expedition to Canada and a last-minute, unsuccessful switch to the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita, where he was unsuited by the sharp track.

“He’s had a good break and is very well,” Dascombe reported. “He came back from America in early November and we turned him out, other than putting him on the horsewalker and sending him swimming before Christmas. Then we had him cantering away from the first week of January.

“He’s done a lot of swimming, because we have to keep him busy as he thrives on being active, and we took him to Wolverhampton on March 2 for a day out. He went round with Angelic Lord, who was just touched off at Lingfield afterwards, so that was encouraging.

“The ground will be quick but it’s got a good covering of grass, so it shouldn’t ride too firm. He’ll love the long straight, which reminds me of Doncaster, where he was second in the St Leger, so in terms of the going, the track and the trip, everything’s perfect.”

Although Dascombe has sent runners to the Dubai World Cup Carnival in previous years, and dispatched Brown Panther for the Dubai Sheema Classic two years ago only to be thwarted by injury, this will be his first runner under his own name at the World Cup meeting, and the prospect is exciting him.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I’ve had some fantastic times in Dubai, but everything else will be topped if Brown Panther wins the Dubai Gold Cup.”