Owen's Panther favourite for German goal

Michael Owen has more than once been a thorn in the German side, most notably perhaps when he scored a hat-trick in that memorable 5-1 World Cup qualification victory in Munich.

Ten years on he will be back in Germany as an English challenger for a major sporting contest, though flying his own, rather than the national, colours. And yesterday his colt Brown Panther took what could be a significant step towards victory in the Deutches Derby in Hamburg when he was handed a favourable starting position for Sunday's 12-furlong contest.

Brown Panther, who is not only owned but was bred by Owen, has been drawn two in a field of 18, close to the inside rail and regarded as a distinct advantage on a track where the first bend comes up relatively quickly. The son of Shirocco, trained in Cheshire by Tom Dascombe, goes to the fray off the back of a wide-margin Royal Ascot victory and has been installed 7-2 favourite by local bookmakers. Only one British-trained horse has taken Germany's premier Classic since the first running in 1869; Buzzword for Godolphin last year.

Another success at Ascot, Banimpire, has been ruled out of her weekend target, for which she, too, headed the market. The Ribblesdale Stakes winner, trained by Jim Bolger, is to skip the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock and go straight to the very much more prestigious Irish Oaks at the Curragh next month. Vita Nova has taken her place as favourite.

Former jockey Richard Fox died in hospital yesterday at the age of 57, having been on a life-support machine since collapsing in Newmarket two months ago. The Irishman, who rode his first winner in 1972, was a highly successful lightweight at the peak of his career, with victories in top handicaps including the Lincoln, Cesarewitch and Northumberland Plate.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Watered Silk (6.50 Kempton) Returns to the scene and grade of his first handicap victory after two perfectly respectable efforts since on turf. Remains on same mark as last time, when forcing tactics left him vulnerable.



* Next Best

Lady Caprice (2.30 Catterick) Though yet to trouble a judge in either of her runs, she has been showing gradual improvement and may not have to be extra special to take this contest.



* One to watch

She missed an engagement at Newmarket on Saturday because of easy ground but when she gets it fast again My Propellor (Peter Chapple-Hyam) will certainly have her rivals in a spin.

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